Social Media Policies

Social media policies

Social media guidelinesI find it fascinating how different companies manage their technology policies and more specifically how they approach social media in the workplace.

More and more Australian companies are using social media to engage with customer base yet shy away from it internally. It seems to be one of those things that still strikes fear into the hearts of many executive teams.

In my experience “Web 2.0 technologies” traditionally haven’t been well understood, therefore are either ignored entirely, poorly implemented (i.e. become a push communication tool rather than a way to engage conversation) or get banned totally.

What makes social media work at work?

That in itself is a much larger discussion. And having an army of Gen Y social media fantics isn’t always the answer.

It’s different for every organisation. Having spent most of my career working in the technology space, I’ve found adding internal social media tools into the mix tends to be adopted much faster and with less issues than in non-geek workplaces. I’ll be the first to say it, us geeks love our toys and online collaboration is a native concept in the geek-verse.

It’s also important to have policies that support positive social media use.

I did a short contract with Telstra a few years ago and they are the first company that I’ve worked with that I think actually handle employee social media usage well. Telstra get their contract, casual and permanent staff to complete a compulsory online module about their social media policy.

What I found most exciting was they actually understand social media. There was no denial that a vast majority of their staff and customers use it and describe the policy as “…‘guardrails’ designed to protect the interests of employees and the company.”

Telstra’s 3 Rs of Social Media Engagement says “that when engaging in social media you be clear about who you are representing, you take responsibility for ensuring that any references to Telstra are factually correct and accurate and do not breach confidentiality requirements, and that you show respect for the individuals and communities with which you interact.”

Their approach is realistic, pragmatic and extremely simple to follow. Their full social media policy is six pages; it’s pretty comprehensive while keeping things concise.

When you think about it, it really is just common sense.

If you look at other large organisations who have embraced social media as part of their large employee engagement strategy, they all have similar themes. Intel have a similar three principle model approach and like Telstra offer additional online training and opportunities for employees who want to be “officially” part of the online conversation about the company.

Intel's Social Media Policy

Intel’s Social Media Policy

Mashable were talking about the need for company social media policies back in 2009; they posted a series of articles talking about the potential HR issues, how to shape such a policy and a simple 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy.

The guiding points are pretty straight forward:

  • Be clear about what you can and can’t say
  • Be responsible for what you write
  • Be truthful with what you write
  • Consider who’s going to read it
  • Don’t talk about confidential and propriety information
  • Don’t say mean and nasty things or make it personal about another person


Does your company have a social media policy or are they still being anti-social about the whole conversation?




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