Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the Practising Law Institute’s program on Social Media for Non-Profits and Public Interest Organizations. The Practising Law Institute is a Bronze Sponsor of Pro Bono Net and we are very pleased to partner with them. Liz Keith, Program Director at Pro Bono Net, and a Faculty member at PLI spoke with attendees in San Francisco, CA and was also broadcast LIVE via webcast to over 350 registered participants! Liz was joined by the Executive Director of OneJustice.org, Julia Wilson, and Pro Bono Net’s very own LawHelp Program Coordinator, Xander Karsten. The program offered three presentations meant to help non-profit organizations and public interest organizations start, maintain and grow their social media programs and campaigns. Below I’ve included a discussion on each presentation highlighting what my favorite pieces were within their presentations.
Xander Karsten – Institutionalizing Effective Policies and Practices
Pro Bono Net’s LawHelp Coordinator, Xander Karsten, discussed the policies, procedures and ethical questions involved in participating on social media platforms. Since there are so many options and variables out there, each organization really needs an official social media policy, not only to keep all employees on the same page, but also to construct and carry out a proper plan that fits the organization’s unique needs and audiences.
Policies create a framework to govern the creation of content, responses to communications, and conduct of employees on social media. Most policies are written within an ‘if X then Y’ framework to make following policy easier and more direct. Xander focused on four specific sections that are commonly found within social media policies. The key is to consider some of the commonly used sections that have been found to be useful and determine the best policy for your individual organization.
The Introduction & Purpose section of the policy is a great place to address the overall context, feel, and voice of the organization on social media, and help to define what goals are integral to the policy itself. This section can also be a great place to discuss the expectations and evaluations of success that the organization is going to rely upon moving forward. Since change is inevitable in social media, this section can provide a context and framework for those changes, and should be updated accordingly.
Content creation should be given its own section within a social media policy as the intentions, goals, branding and tone will directly affect the type and frequency of content being shared on each platform. Copyright in social media differs than traditional materials as it is designed to allow users to take and share all materials freely. In this regard, your organization should ensure that the material they share either has some sort of branding, or the story/image or other content that’s been preapproved for use.
Policies regarding responding to comments and questions should also be addressed in the Content section, as they include responsive content, and should be updated and changed according to the organization’s need. For example, Pro Bono Net doesn’t provide direct services to clients, so our policy is to provide the person with alternative means of finding what they need. Many people who contact us are looking for referrals or legal help so we send them to LawHelp.org in order to find local assistance and information according to their area.
The Accounts & Platforms section of the policy is the perfect place to address what platforms your organization will participate on. Branding and identification can be discussed in this section as well. Every organization needs to have a policy regarding the type of information and images that will be shared under the brand name and where that content will be shared. All disclaimers should be worked out in this section and maintained on appropriate platforms. The tone and branding can vary depending on what platforms your organization is on.
It is crucial to put in the policy what position or person will be responsible for the administration of the site, content creation, monitoring and responding. Some organizations may have a dedicated team to work on their social media campaigns, while other organizations have a single person responsible for all of the above. It is important to make these decisions ahead of time and create an Administrators/Roles section within your policy. This is also a great place to put policies regarding problems and incidents like hacking or communications blunders. Knowing who is responsible for taking action and what actions should be taken can help an organization maintain a professional face on social media and prevent a small glitch or mistake from becoming a serious problem.
The options discussed above are important to consider when creating a policy, but it is not an exhaustive list by any means. To learn more Xander suggests visiting www.socialmediagovernance.com/policy.
At the core of Practising Law Institute’s mission is its commitment to offer training to members of the legal profession to support their pro bono service. PLI offers pro bono training, scholarships, and access to live programs, Webcasts, and On-Demand archived programs, as well as an extensive Pro Bono Membership program. For more information about PLI’s pro bono programs and activities, please visit www.pli.edu/probono. Follow PLI’s Pro Bono Group on LinkedIn, and on Twitter @ProBonoPLI