IBM recently released a new social media/ blogging policy for its employees and it certainly affords staff opportunities to serve the IBM brand well. Focusing on engagement, employing trust for their staff and best practice examples on accountability, this social media/blogging policy breaks new ground. Here is a copy of a recent article on Ragan that details the policy. Congrats to IBM on leading the charter!
Additional forward thinking companies have also published their blog policies for public consumption such as Cisco, Intel, and Sun. 123socialmedia also showcases a variety of different social media policies across industry, SMB and big co.
When developing social media guidelines, it is best not to get too prescriptive in the details of usage and instead, to focus on creating ethical guidelines and social contracts for employees to follow. Some best practices and general guidelines should include suggestions to help people employ good judgment and not control their words.
Companies need a social media policy as a key part of communications management. Social Media is not going away, and a social media policy is an important aspect of the communication plan and strategy.
The IBM policy includes a specific disclaimer for bloggers to include when they post on their own behalf and not on IBM endorsed or sponsored blogs. Interestingly, few corporate blogging policies include specific guidelines for comments and Twitter, and as more people are inclined to comment on someone else’s blog or engage in an easy Tweet than they are to maintain an active blog themselves, it would be advisable to ensure policies are understood within the larger social media context. Many people don’t fully understand that their Twitter comments are traceable and not just in-the moment!
Social Media Policy starting blocks
For those just starting to think about enterprise social media policies – here are some best practice suggestions that companies can adapt and also – of course- run through their legal departments for company specific spin.
- Always be honest and use your best judgment in all situations.
- Use your best judgment in what you are posting and be sure not to release any confidential information.
- Company logos and trademarks are not to be used without documented permission from the company and must be properly cited in all cases.
- The privacy of all employees must be respected at all times. This also applies to clients, customers, and competitors past and present, as well as potential.
- Do not speak on behalf of the company without previous written permission.
- If you choose to make a statement about your company, make your manager aware of this before posting so they may monitor your opinion and make sure they are in the best interest of the company, its employees and its customers.
- Do not disclose private financial information about the company, as this is confidential.
- Avoid plagiarism at all costs. Make sure to use proper documentation for all quotes as to avoid legal and ethical consequences.
- Be vigilant of the content of your writing, as you will be the only person legally liable for it.
- Be sure to express your opinions in a professional manner.
- Respect the boundaries of your fellow employees and do not release any personal information about them without first asking their permission.
- Peer reviews before posting is highly encouraged as it may prevent possible spelling and grammar mistakes. This also acts as a second opinion as to what information should not be posted.
- If you are making an opinionated statement that reflects solely your own views, be sure to disclose that information as to avoid confusion.
- Do not let your use of social media interfere with your daily workload.
- Be professional in all situations, especially when accepting criticism.