Monday, 8 November 2010

Social media guidelines for employees

One of our clients is about to introduce social media guidelines for their employees. I love the word guidelines, it always makes me think of Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one, the good one), where Captain Jack Sparrow introduces the pirates code, which he promptly breaks. He then goes on to explain it's not so much a code, it's more like guidelines!?

Social media guidelines: does your company have some? Who wrote them? And what do they say? Let's look at each of these in turn.

Does your company have social media guidelines?

I would argue that whatever business you're in you need social media guidelines. You might assume that your staff would never say anything silly or contentious online, but as one of my colleagues often says "to assume is to make an ass out of you and me" (we're a witty bunch!)  Google's Karen Wickre was recently asked for rules around blogging, and I was amused by her answer: "You've just got to be smart." But what if there's a danger that you might have a couple of people in your business who are not quite so smart? Or the risk that smart people might do something very not smart? That's what social media guidelines are for.

Who wrote your social media guidelines?

Who usually writes the rules in a company?  Often it's the lawyers.  Now that'll work if, like our company, your legal team are well versed with social media.  But what if they're not?  One of the best suggestions I've heard is to crowd source your social media guidelines.  Set-up a wiki or find another forum for you and your colleagues to have their say.  If people help to create the rules they're much more likely to buy into them.

What do they say?

One easy place to start when drawing up social media guidelines is to look at what other firm have done, however, be aware that what is appropriate for one business is not necessarily appropriate for another. For example: one of my colleagues was telling me about her sister who is a nurse and does not have a Facebook account as she doesn't want any pictures of her doing anything silly or drunken online. Yesterday, I saw a tweet with a swear word in it, it was from a digital agency and maybe swearing is the norm there. I've certainly noticed swearing creeping into business more and more, but for many companies swearing over Twitter is not appropriate.

Some social media guidelines to crib ideas from:

BBC social media guidelines
Reuters social media guidelines
Coca-Cola social media principles
Intel social media guidelines
IBM social computing guidelines

Some further blog posts on creating social media guidelines:

List of 40 social media staff guidelines
Seven steps to nailing the perfect social media guidelines from Econsultancy blog
10 must haves for your social media policy from Mashable

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