Social Media Policy is a MUST!

71% companies don’t have Social Media Policy : Is your company part of the winning 29%?

Companies are becoming more and more positive about using Social Media with each passing Tweet / Like / Pin / SlideShare / Circle and the list is never ending but most of them are ignorant about forming the base strong.

“Realize that the social media success equations isn’t big moves on the chess board, it’s little moves made every day that eventually add up to a major shift.” — Jay Baer

Having supposed that, it is important that the base of these small small steps is formed strong. Yes, I mean the Social Media Policy.

Currently only 29% companies have a Social Media Policy, so it would be good idea to put together a list of resources that would assist the other 71% to create one.

First thing first, What is a social media policy?

“A social media policy outlines for employees the corporate guidelines or principles of communicating in the online world”.

Why Have a Social Media Policy?

As a Human Resources and Social Media practitioner, I take the blame of being all about policies. Nonetheless besides the pre-disposition of my profession and obsession to policies, there are genuine reasons to establish some guidelines for social media. Call me old school but only the strong foundations can form the best structures. For organisations, strong base aka policies are the key.

Unfortunately, you have to contemplate what might happen if someone says or does something stupid. So I would refer an expert here, Eric B. Meyer, who’s an Associate in the Labor and Employment Group of Dilworth Paxson LLP, what companies should consider from a legal perspective in developing a social media policy. Meyer reminded me of two important points:

1. Employers need to be upfront with employees that they have no right to privacy with respect to social networking. “Employers reserve the right to monitor employee use of social media regardless of location (i.e. at work on a company computer or on personal time with a home computer).”

2. Employees “should be made aware that company policies on anti-harassment, ethics and company loyalty extend to all forms of communication (including social media) both inside and outside the workplace.” People need to remember that bashing your organization/boss/co-workers online can lead to consequences at work.

Are you thinking, how to get started with your social media policy? You may consider using the below skeleton or let’s call them guidelines for the starters.

Always remember that all policies should be reviewed and revised, if needed on time to time basis. Most importantly, they should be futuristic. You may be 200 employees today however you will keep adding zeros to your employee strength (at the end of course).

Sample Social Media Computing Guidelines:-

These guidelines apply to (Name of the company) employees or contractors who create or contribute to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of Social Media. Whether you log into Twitter, Yelp, Wikipedia, MySpace or Facebook pages, or comment on online media stories — these guidelines are for you.

While all (Name of the company) employees are welcome to participate in Social Media, we expect everyone who participates in online commentary to understand and to follow these simple but important guidelines. These rules might sound strict and contain a bit of legal-sounding jargon but please keep in mind that our overall goal is simple: to participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation and of course follows the letter and spirit of the law.

  1. Be transparent and state that you work at (Name of the company). Your honesty will be noted in the Social Media environment. If you are writing about (Name of the company) or a competitor, use your real name, identify that you work for (Name of the company), and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be the first to say so.
  2. Never represent yourself or (Name of the company) in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true and not misleading; all claims must be substantiated.
  3. Post meaningful, respectful comments — in other words, please no spam and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive.
  4. Use common sense and common courtesy: for example, it’s best to ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to (Name of the company).
  5. Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate (Name of the Company)’s privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines for external commercial speech. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  6. Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval. When you do make a reference, link back to the source. Don’t publish anything that might allow inferences to be drawn which could embarrass or harm a client.
  7. Stick to your area of expertise and do feel free to provide unique, individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at (Name of the company).
  8. Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in Kcom’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.
  9. When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming hostile, do not get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly: feel free to ask the PR Director for advice and/or to disengage from the dialogue in a polite manner that reflects well on (Name of the company).
  10. If you want to write about the competition, make sure you behave tactfully, have the facts straight and that you have the appropriate permissions from the business.
  11. Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties (Name of the company) may be in litigation with.
  12. Never participate in Social Media when the topic being discussed may be considered a crisis situation. Even anonymous comments may be traced back to your or (Name of the company)’s IP address. Refer all Social Media activity around crisis topics to PR and/or Legal Affairs Director.
  13. Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and (Name of the company)’s confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Google has a long memory.

So do you think you are ready to have one in place now? Once done creating it, make sure the viral communication of the same is done. It’s as important as creating one.

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