In part 2 of our series I discussed why it is important for a department to develop social media policy. As I discussed the department must make every effort to control the information flow to the public when it comes to their operations. If misinformation or inappropriate information is attributed to the department it could spell a disastrous public relations event. Erroneous information most often comes from members who use social media platforms to both intentionally and unintentionally discuss organizational issues, problems or general operations.
Its vital every fire service organization understand the importance of social media and how they can use it to benefit themselves but above anything else a social media standard operating procedure must be established.
Where to start?
When developing a social media policy senior leadership should consider examining policies from other public safety organizations across the country. There are many different concepts that may be applicable to their department. I will provide a few examples during this series.
Leadership should consult with their company attorney when drafting a social media policy. This will go a long way to alleviate any complaints or concerns on violating members right to free speech as defined by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Defining Social Media Part 1. What Does It Mean?
When designing the SOP leadership must actually define what social media means. This definition will help to build and drive the policy. By examining the literal definition it can give further insight on what also should be included in this policy. Merriam-Webster defines social media as the following:
“forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)”
Leadership needs to next examine this definition, look at it harder, and ask “where does this fit into department operations and who is covered?” By defining what social media means to the department also gives the membership a base of which they can build their understanding of social media and how it affects them.
This doesn’t mean the department should create their own definition, but simply take the pure version and break it down to be more specific to departmental operation. This will help to ensure there are no loopholes.
In my next article in the series we will take a look at some of these specifics and what to include such as explaining networking, cameras, video and still usage on scenes.
(Cover and Feature Image Courtesy: Designdeck.co.uk)