I recently wrote a blog post about social media spam inspired by the amount of promotional wall posts that were appearing on my Facebook page. I feel that most of the time such posts are if not accidental, posted by people who are unaware they can be considered as spam. A discussion in the comments afterwards suggested that many people would see others doing it and then do it themselves thinking it acceptable practice. Another comment from fellow Bloggertoner Lorna Sixsmith told me about a page that responded to such posts by pointing people at their Facebook posting guidelines. I have seen social media guidelines created for businesses and organisations, mainly to ensure that staff are using the tools responsibly. The first time I encountered a Facebook page with posting guidelines for the community I assumed that it was there for legal reasons. Having had to recently deal with low level spamming on my own page, and at times being indecisive of how to deal with it, the idea of posting guidelines suddenly made sense. Why have a Facebook posting policy? Although spam is annoying you don’t want to discourage interaction on a page whilst warding off offenders. Interaction is the lifeblood of social media so loosing any because of confusion is counterproductive. If a post needs to be removed you can refer users to the guidelines. You will know when to remove content or block a user. As I said above, I often find myself indecisive about removing a post. If the guidelines are there you will know if a post breaks them so it’s easy to make a quick decision and ensures you are fair. The ultimate goal – less spam posts. Not all people will read the guidelines but those who do are more likely to obey them. At the very least it should stop some of those accidental spammers. You may even find some of your community will remind offenders of the guidelines. It gives you the opportunity to tell your fans a bit more about the page, who runs it and posts on it and what you will be sharing. What should be in the guidelines? I’m no fan of rules and too strict a policy could scare people off. Simple guidelines are best and are more likely to be read. Keep it short – Both short in length as people won’t read a big chunk of text, and short sentences so it’s easy to understand. Avoid legalese – Don’t use complicated legal terms, users may not understand and it could be a turn off if people think there is a big legal team ready to pounce on anything they say. Be friendly – These should be flagged as guidelines not rules. Don’t include too many clauses as this could put people off posting. Decide what acceptable content is – Think about how you want fans to interact with your page and encourage it. Decide what isn’t acceptable behaviour and how you will react when unacceptable content it posted. – Consider appropriate language, offensive behaviour, self promotion. I love this quote from the ‘All Ears’ Facebook posting guidelines: “People are free to report bad experiences they may have at Disney… as long as they stick to the facts. When they start talking about the decline of American society, that’s straying too far from sharing a negative Disney experience.” Decide under what circumstances will you delete comments / wall posts? Decide under what circumstances will you block users? If you already have a Facebook page why not ask your community what the guidelines should be? If they contribute they are more likely to obey the rules and help you moderate. When should you set your posting guidelines? At Spiderworking.com we waited until the problem arose before we addressed the issue. However this is not the ideal, It’s worth spending some time considering your posting guidelines before you set up a page. It’s never to early or too late to put your guidelines in place. Examples of Facebook posting guidelines: Alpha Insurance Guide Dog Foundation For The Blind All Ears How do you add guidelines to your page? Most of the examples above were created using the ‘Notes’ Application on Facebook. This is the simplest way to create them however they will easily get hidden on your pages stream. I believe it’s important to make your guidelines as prominent as possible making them easy to direct people to and meaning that more people will actually view them. For this reason I think you need to create a custom Facebook page. The easiest way to do this is by using a Facebook application. I’ve found WooBox to be the best solution for this as it has a very easy text input and editing system. Have you created posting guidelines for your Facebook page? Is there anything you think it’s important to include? I’d love to hear your ideas as we’re still creating ours at Spiderworking.com so do leave your suggestions below.