Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What's your social media policy?

As we prepare for the next school year, teachers have to add another element to their syllabi, and that's their social media policy. Students should have one too. It might include a rule like: I never pose nude with a drink in my hand on Facebook. That kind of thing.

For teachers, the social media policy establishes what kind of relationship they want with students in the online world. I put mine out there for students in the first class:

1. Don't Friend me on Facebook, please. (I love you, but not in that way.)

2. I only LinkIn with students who have completed a class with me and earned an A or a B. (My professional network is valuable. Why should I open it up to slackers or students I don't know?)

Another practice I'm subscribing to these days: I use my name when commenting. If everyone did this, the quality and civility level of comments would go way, way up.

So what's your social media policy? And if you were running a company, how much freedom would you give employees about what they post online? (And how the hell would you enforce it?)

In the beginning, companies feared social media because they saw it as a loss of control over their brand and message. What's the role of a public relations office in a company when anyone can write anything for a global audience?

But most have realized by now that it's unstoppable. And smart companies, including tee shirt company Johnny Cupcakes, are integrating social media into their marketing plans in a big way.

Take a look at founder Johnny Earle's recent Suitcase Tour, on this site. It's brilliant.

The Cupcakers developed the route by putting out a Tweet asking for suggestions of where they should go. Then they matched the locations to the places where they sold the most shirts. Then they documented every stop with some rocking, well-produced, video. I've never heard of people waiting for two nights on a sidewalk to meet a guy who makes tee shirts, but there you go.

Here's a piece I wrote on the company.

Still, it's not easy managing the online etiquette of thousands of employees. So, increasingly, companies have developed social media policies that establish parameters for employees, and advise them on how to use social media to move the company forward.

Here's a good example, from Intel.

A snippet:
Are you adding value? There are millions of words out there. The best way to get yours read is to write things that people will value. Social communication from Intel should help our customers, partners, and co-workers. It should be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge or skills, build their businesses, do their jobs, solve problems, or understand Intel better—then it's adding value.
Want to see how other organizations do it? Here's an online database that shows how other companies manage social media. One of our alums, Alexa Marcigliano, is on a national team that's trying to help the federal government figure out the rules of the road for social media. So there's a lot going on in this field.

FYI I got this link from a LinkedIn group called the Online Community Manager Group. Yes, there's a whole job category in managing social media for companies. What? You're not on LinkedIn? Put it on your social media list. Facebook for fun, Linkedin for work.

Now it's your turn. What's your social media policy? What steps do you take to you manage your online presence?


Steve Fox said...
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Steve Fox said...

BJ --

This is a great conversation to have. Some news orgs have tried to set policies but there has been some backlash as some see policies as too restrictive. Often, common sense rules are best. I did a panel on this about a year ago at ONA:


Jesse Torres said...

Check out Creating an Ironclad Social Media Policy. Free download at