Social media has become such an essential part of having an online presence that orthodontic and dental practices today need a better approach to managing their brand’s reputation. This means developing a plan for not only the office, but the staff as well. Creating a social media policy may seem like a lot of work, but it can be as simple as a one or two page document with clear guidelines that are easy to follow.
Benefits of a Social Media Policy
Whether your practice is new to social media or already have an established following, having a clear and concise policy can both help and protect your business online. Here are some of the ways a social media policy can be beneficial to your practice:
- Protects your brand’s reputation.
- Defends against legal trouble and security risks.
- Encourages employees to share brand messaging.
- Creates consistency across multiple platforms.
What to Include
Before you get started, we highly recommend splitting your policy into two different areas: one for office accounts and one for employee accounts. You will find that both are very similar but one may be more specific in detail than the other.
Rules and regulations
One of the most important aspects of your social media policy is establishing a clear set of expectations for acceptable employee behavior. Want to restrict the use of profanities in the office and online? State it in your policy.
To organize your expectations, try dividing them into sections that are easy to follow. Some examples of sections you can use include:
- Brand guidelines (defines how to mention your practice and the services offered)
- Behavior and engagement (outlines how you want staff to respond to mentions of your brand whether positive or negative)
- Confidentiality (states what business information cannot be shared on social media)
Roles and Responsibilities
In this section, you will delegate responsibilities among yourself and your staff in regards to social media. Assign roles to those you know already have experience or think would be a great fit for. For instance, if your Dental Assistant is great at creating photos and videos on their own pages, assign them to take photos and videos of patients getting their braces on or off to be shared on your social platforms.
You may assign roles in list or table form – as long as it is easy to understand. Some roles you may want to include are:
- Message/Reviews approval
- Customer service
- Social engagement
- Staff training
- Security and legal concerns
- Photo/Video Editor
Potential Legal Risks
There are many things to consider when posting on social media and representing your brand. Similar to HIPPA’s rules for social media, there should be a straightforward set of guidelines in your social media policy on how to handle possible issues should they occur. Start by doing some research and seek the help of legal counsel to understand all your potential risks.
This section should address:
- Crediting sources: Establish how you want staff to credit sources if they aren’t posting original content. Image copyright is a common example of how this is used.
- Privacy and disclosure procedures: Be specific in what practice information is confidential and should not appear on social media in any form.
- Employee disclaimers: When replying to content related to your business, instruct employees to include a disclaimer like, “The views expressed on this web site/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.” It is also a good idea to have this disclaimer in the bios of their profiles on all social accounts as well.
The downside of having an online presence is the potential risk of phishing scams and cyber attacks. It is crucial to have a policy in place for avoiding or addressing these issues as they come. Your policy should include:
- How to create secure passwords for the brand
- How to avoid phishing attacks, spam and other common scams
- How to respond in case sensitive information is breached
While social media may be a fun way to connect and entertain, it is important to remember that every member of your staff is an extension of your brand. They are responsible for their actions on and offline and must be careful when posting for themselves or the practice.
Social Media Policies IRL (In Real Life)
Looking for inspiration? Below are just a few examples of companies with great social media policies you can refer to. Remember to seek guidance from legal counsel to make sure you have covered every aspect necessary for your orthodontic or dental brand.