By now, you’re aware that you need a social media policy, and you may already have one created. So start by giving yourself a high five! Because the first step in implementing a policy is to have one (or at least be in the process of it).
But once you have it, you need to take the next step: putting it into action. You could just hand over a sheet with the guidelines to your team, coaches and parents … but that won’t get you very far if you won’t be taking the steps to also enforce the policy. So below I’ll outline a few ways that you can make sure your guidelines are not ignored.
Make it a part of your handbook or constitution. Show your team that you take these guidelines very seriously by incorporating them into your regular handbook or constitution. Include it as part of your expectations for behavior and consider making your team members—and their parents—sign it to show that they have read it and agree to it.
Assign consequences and follow through. When preparing your guideline,s be sure to think of consequences for infractions or working them into your demerit system (if you have one). Make them specific and create a safe reporting system so others feel as though they speak up about inappropriate behavior on social media.
The most important part is to follow through. You shouldn’t punish every instance reported, since many of them probably won’t deserve that. However, when something does fit your criteria for inappropriate behavior, stick to your guns and enforce the policies you worked so hard to produce.
Empower and encourage your team captains and employees. The truth is that you will not be able to monitor everybody’s social media activity alone. You will have to give some extra direction and power to those you’ve chosen as team leaders to help you out if you want to ensure effectiveness. Tell them what you’re looking for, encourage them to engage online and give them the authority to report or draw attention to inappropriate behavior from your team.
Educate parents. Another part of your social media team could be the parents of your athletes. Take some time to educate them about the technology and threats involved in social media and the policy you have put into place to protect their children. Then encourage them to be a presence on social media by interacting often with their children online and offline about what’s being posted.
Engage frequently. Even though delegation will make the job of enforcing your policy much easier, it doesn’t absolve you from being involved on social media. You should still make an effort to have a presence on the various channels that your athletes use and interact with them there. It will help build accountability as well as relationships.
I know some of this may seem controlling or as though you’re infringing on their freedom of expression, but a solid social media policy is about protecting your athletes as well as your business and reputation. By implementing your policies, you’re creating increasingly social media savvy human beings who will be equipped to make wise decisions and ultimately succeed.
Kate Boyd is a coach, choreographer and consultant whose goal is to make you, your team and your program look its best. Visit kateboydcheerleading.com to learn more about Kate or to find articles about leadership, technique and choreography.