Around about the time that savvy businesses started to realise the potential of social media; a lot of people sat down in meeting rooms and started developing social media policy documents.

Sensible? - of course! but for many businesses these documents were created 5-10 years ago and have either stayed exactly the same or been slightly amended over time.

Start again: Social has evolved exponentially in the last few years so if your social policy is more than a year old it's probably time to tear it up and start again, rather than amend an old and meaningless document.

In the driving seat: The word “policy” (for me) evokes an image of a group of risk-averse people worrying about all the possible ramifications and consequences of everything that could go wrong. The people driving your new social policy should be those that understand the benefits and opportunities involved, whilst being aware of, but not obsessive about the negatives.

Purpose: Why do you want your team on social? What do you want to achieve and how can your policy empower your people to be the best possible ambassadors for your company?

Trust & Educate: Trust your people, after all, you hired them, give them the right level of guidance about what is expected of them and let them fly.

Clarity = Brevity: How many times have you read all the terms and conditions of a product or service you have bought? If your social policy is 14 pages long with endless sub clauses, it’s likely that no-one will ever read it anyway. Keep it brief, on message and keep the legalese to a bare minimum.

Evolution: Social is evolving very fast, be prepared to evolve your policy to keep pace with new channels and changes.

Consequences: Things can go wrong, but all the companies that have made newsworthy social faux pas have a social media policy! You can’t mitigate against a bitter ex-employee, and sometimes mistakes happen! Accentuate the positive; educate, empower and inform your team and you’ll be fine.

The bottom line is to think about a short, simple policy that spells out what the company wants to achieve by using social media and empowers your employees to contribute. Show them by example what “doing it wrong” can look like rather than provide an endless and draconian list of “don’ts”. Teach them what “doing it right” looks like and you’ll be on the right track.