8 Simple Rules Every Social Media Team Should Follow To Avoid Disaster

Team work can lead to great successes. It can also lead to emergency surgery to remove a broken pencil from your leg.

Let me explain.

I was a gradeschooler. The class was given a group assignment. My fellow partners and I gathered around a table — but I couldn’t see the prompt. I decided to kneel in my chair and lean in to get a closer look. Seconds later the chair tipped. I went tumbling. And the tip of the pencil in my hand went right into my leg.

There was blood. Tears. And a trip to the ER. I still have the scar.

Dramatic right? Moral of the story: Teamwork can come with hazards. Maybe nothing as grizzly as a serious flesh wound — but mistakes can happen. And in the world of social media, when they do, everyone sees the whole bloody mess.

Creating a social media team to contribute to your organization’s social media efforts can be a great way to keep content fresh and interesting. But setting some ground rules is important because without them, your team could be in danger of poking themselves — or you — with a pencil.

Here are 8 rules your social media team members should follow when representing the company online:

1. Keep it classy
Write in a business casual style. Keep things professional and appropriate, but also have fun and be conversational.

Find the right tone for your posts.

Find the right tone for your posts.

2. Proof your work
Read over content for mistakes before you publish it. Check and re-check for spelling, grammatical, and factual errors. Ask a coworker to double check your work.

3. Vet your links
Review everything. Follow links before you share them. Carefully read all outside content in its entirety. Don’t trust a headline. Make sure the information is appropriate for your audience and inline with your organization’s mission.

 4. Avoid posting live
Unless you’re part of a planned live tweeting event – use a social media management system to schedule your content ahead of time. This will make the review process easier and help you catch mistakes before you can’t take them back. (Facebook, of course, has its own built-in, free scheduler for brand pages — and the free TweetDeck can help with Twitter. Or HootSuite Pro and SproutSocial offer souped-up versions for a monthly fee.)

5. Don’t steal
Never plagiarize. Include attributions and sources where necessary. Be mindful of copyrighted material including graphics and photos. For platforms such as Instagram — use a reposting tool like Iconsquare or Regram to give credit where credit is due.

6. Be vigilant
Monitor user comments and brand mentions. (Another plug for SproutSocial here: It is great for this too. It displays all your Facebook and Twitter comments as messages and allows you to check them off after you’ve responded to them or handled them as you see fit.) Be sure to answer questions in a timely fashion. Know who to contact in your organization if you’re unsure how to respond to a comment or question on social media.

7. Protect yourself
Keep all passwords and log-in information safe. Log out of your computer when you’re away. Change your passwords on a regular basis. Conduct an audit to see who has access to what channels. Not everyone needs the keys to the castle. (On Facebook, take advantage of the five different types of roles for people who manage pages: Admin, Editor, Moderator, Advertiser, Analyst. Facebook explains what each one means here.)

8. Remember who you are
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if you’re using the same device for your personal account and work account, take extra care not to confuse the two. You can get yourself in big trouble by sending something out you meant for only your friends to see but accidentally posting it to the company page. Check and double check. Don’t be like this poor person:

Make sure your personal tweets don't wind up on the company page!

Make sure your personal tweets don’t wind up on the company page!

Social media should be fun and exciting — it’s the only way to keep things lively and engaging. Just remember to use caution and play by the rules so nobody gets hurt!

 Opinions are my own. They do not necessarily reflect those of my employers past or present.

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