The best social media policy is based on values – not rules

I have been meaning to write about developing a social media policy for some time now. This is something that I believe can make or break your internal and external social media campaigns. A good social media policy does not restrict people from social media but rather equips them to use social media in the most beneficial manner.

When looking at your social media policy it is a good idea to understand how people are already engaging with you. How your customers are talking to you or about you, and how your employees are doing the same. Do your best to get a clear picture of the technology your employees and customers are comfortable using.

I would then suggest you look at what you would like to see happening with you company and social media. Then take a hard look at what needs to be allowed for, encouraged or discouraged. Don’t simply create a “rule list” of do’s or dont’s. This would be very ineffective because you will simply look as though you are trying to control something you don’t have control of.

One of the best social media policies was written by IBM. It’s great because it empowers people to share company values. A value based policy will always go further than a rules based policy. Staff at IBM have hundreds of blogs and in 2005 IBM released this guideline for bloggers:

  1. Speak in the first person.
  2. Respect copyright and fair use laws.
  3. Safeguard confidential and proprietary information.
  4. Protect company clients, business partners and suppliers.
  5. Respect your audience and your coworkers.
  6. Add value.
  7. Don’t pick fights.
  8. Be the first to respond to your own mistakes.
  9. Adopt a warm, open and approachable tone.

This is a good foundation to start from in your own organisation. I hope you enjoy empowering your employees inside the social media space for your organisation.

If you would like someone to help you develop and write a social media policy please feel free to touch base with me so that we can discuss this further.