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A Tale of Two Social Media Policies: "Vader's Death Star" vs. "Don't Embarrass Your Mom"..

I interrupt my normal programming to do this quick rundown of social media policy posts that I've riffed out in the past.  In the past couple of days, I've had 7 or 8 requests to send links regarding guidance for social media policies, so this is the rundown I promised some folks.

Kick it...

Your choices are as follows (there are four choices) when it comes to a social media policy for your employees:Vader and elmo

Option #1. You can say "We Don't Need No Stinking Social Media Policy" and do nothing.

Option #2. You can go command and control, Darth Vader Death Star style, creating a legal masterpiece that will either be ignored or freeze everybody from using social media on behalf of your company, like Bambi freezing in the road as your're barreling down the highway in your American, gas guzzling SUV (full disclosure - I own two).

Option #3. You can take a common sense approach to a social media policy and tell employees what you expect, trust them, and oh yeah - remind them that when they use social media as a company agent - they're responsible for everything in that phone book size document you call "the Employee Handbook".

Option #4.  If you have to go Vader style (option #2 - and I get why most of you have to go this way...), you can do the big legal document, THEN STILL TALK LIKE A HUMAN by communicating that policy via the common sense approach outlined in #3.

For me, I'm a fan of #3 (common sense, easy to understand language), or #4 if you have to go with the big, legal sounding document. 

On to the show - NSTBHere's an example of the common sense, topical sounding policy I provided at the Capitalist awhile back (this is option #3, and could be used as the human interface to option #4):

"I'd keep it simple with a little something like this:

"<Insert your company name here> encourages team members to be active in social media as a representative of our company.  Only three rules – be real, add value and don’t say anything that would embarrass your mom.  If your mom has low standards, then don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of USA Today.  Simple enough."

That's what I got.  If I was really writing in long form, I'd slip something in like "P.S. - You're responsible for all the other stuff in the handbook when you're twittering, blogging, facebooking or whatever it is that you crazy kids are doing these days."

If you need the corporate sounding approach (option #2, also used in option #4 above), here's one from a corporate communications perspective that I shared at the Capitalist back in the day:

"1. Official ____ Social Media sites and applications are authorized only by Corporate Communications and are to be maintained only by ____  CorporateCommunications staff and/or CC designees.

2. There will be only one official social media site/page per application. Only ____ Corporate Communications may establish an application site. No ____ department, division or individual is authorized to create and maintain a social media application site on behalf of or in representation of _____.

3. Departments, Divisions and/or individuals wishing for specific communications to be posted to the official ____ social media applications should contact Corporate Communications for approval and posting. Exceptions will be made only for designated foundation and human resources representatives who are authorized to post only information of a fundraising/event or recruitment nature.

4. As with traditional media outlets and other communications vehicles, no ____ employee is authorized to speak (represent, post, tweet, etc.) on behalf of ____ other than officially designated ____ Corporate Communications Staff Members.

5. Employees utilizing social media personally should observe all laws and regulations. No personally identifying information or other information that otherwise could identify ____ customers should be included in any social media communications on employee’s personal social media sites.

6. All other _____ administrative and corporate communications policies apply to social media as with all other mediums. The policies include, but are not limited to, ____ logo usage, photos, media relations, employee relations and other public relations and marketing activities. "

Need some other examples?  Check out these submissions from Jessica Lee and the HR Bartender.

Good luck out there - it's time to get ill.  If you have to be Vader, at least be the topical Vader outlined in option #4.


social media applications

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Asad Ali

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