Social Media for Managers

by Theresa Truscott

Social media policies

Every organisation needs a social media policy to set expectations and achieve beneficial collaboration with employees. After all, they are the ‘front lines’ of communication to contacts, the public and the world through social media circles. Your employees need to know what is expected of them.

1. Introduce the purpose of social media

All policies need to address what’s in it for the employee. A great paradigm shift that has occurred, specifically for policies regarding social media, is that the policy focuses on the things that employees can rather than what they can’t do.

This is an echoing of the spirit of social media – leveraging the positive.

Even so, the user must understand the proper place of social media in the execution of their duties and, thus, the purpose behind the company’s social media policy. The policy should be a set of ground rules and helpful explanations of how, when and who, instead of a list of ‘Thou shalt nots’.

2. No need to reinvent the wheel!

There are many effective and well-thought-out social media policies which can be used as examples for organisations. Here are some great samples with common themes to be considered.

Kodak

LINK

This reads like a guide book, making it very approachable. It contains excellent transparency guidelines and good general information on social media.

Example

Even when you are talking as an individual, people may perceive you to be talking on behalf of Kodak. If you blog or discuss photography, printing or other topics related to a Kodak business, be upfront and explain that you work for Kodak; however, if you aren’t an official company spokesperson, add a disclaimer to the effect: ‘The opinions and positions expressed are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Eastman Kodak Company’.

US Army

Another great resource is the US Army Social Media Handbook.

LINK

This document provides extensive social media guidance. It contains information for army leaders, guidance for army families, operations security tips, branding information, checklists, regulations and frequently asked questions. The 2011 Social Media Handbook is your one-stop-shop for army social media information.

Intel

Have a look at the guidelines on moderating content.

LINK

Example

Whether content is pre-moderated or community moderated, follow these three principles: the good, the bad, but not the ugly. If the content is positive or negative and in context to the conversation, then we approve the content, regardless of whether it’s favourable or unfavourable to Intel. But if the content is ugly, offensive, denigrating and completely out of context, then we reject the content.

IBM

Look at the piece on the need for social media to add value to be worth doing.

LINK

Example

If it helps you, your co-workers, our clients or our partners to do their jobs and solve problems; if it helps to improve knowledge or skills; if it contributes directly or indirectly to the improvement of IBM’s products, processes and policies; if it builds a sense of community; or if it helps to promote IBM’s Values, then it is adding value. It is best to stay within your sphere of expertise, and whenever you are presenting something as fact, make sure it is a fact. Though not directly business-related, background information you choose to share about yourself, such as information about your family or personal interests, may be useful in helping establish a relationship between you and your readers, but it is entirely your choice whether to share this information.

Many more

And here is a page where there is a large collection of links to social media policies from organisations in different sectors.

3. Clearly define expectations

Communication of clear performance expectations starts with the strategic planning process of the leaders. How they communicate these plans and goals to the organisation is critical in creating an organisation in which all components are connected and pulling in the same direction. Executive leadership must clearly communicate its expectations for the team’s performance and expected outcomes to align each area of the organisation with the overall mission and vision.

This is especially crucial in matters of policy. To avoid any legal ramifications, it is imperative to define the organisational culture of the company, as well as the desired outcomes the organisation expects from the team when it comes to productivity, appropriate use and so on.

4. Clearly state repercussions of policy breaches

A social media policy needs to cover not only what will be considered ‘offensive material’, but also what sanctions are in place for infringement of the guidelines.

It should also reflect other policies about employee behaviour. There needs to be consistency with other policies; such as an already-stated policy on inappropriate use of company time and resources on non-work-related activities (for example, personal telephone calls). These cover social media activities, but must be stated.

The best way to create a policy for your organisation is to pick the bits you need from the examples given and others you may find online. Be careful that the policy does not try and force people to do things that simply won’t work within your organisational culture.

Tip!

Refrain from just copying a policy; rather, think about how you need to fit your social media policy with other policies, and within the overall strategy for the organisation.