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12 Days of Digital – Day 3: Singing from the same hymn sheet

There is no denying that social media guidelines come into their own for large organisations hoping to represent their culture online. Written in the right way social media policies can empower employees to not only shout about you whilst in work but outside work too. Here are some policy snippets and why I find them invaluable as inspiration towards a unified approach.

British Telecommunications Plc “Etiquette: before your first contribution on any social media site, it is a good idea to observe the activity on the site for a while before launching in yourself to get a feel for the style of contributions, the nature of the content and any ‘unwritten’ rules that other contributors might follow.”

The first rule of social media is that there are no rules in social media; just what’s socially acceptable.

BestBuy “Confidential information: Do not publish, post, or release information that is considered confidential or top secret.”

Transparent doesn’t mean mindless. I’m often surprised at those who shun social networks because they don’t want their ‘every waking thought broadcast to the world’ – well the good news is you don’t have to and best not if it’s privileged information.

Walmart “@replies should contribute to the dialogue. Please support any claims with links to sources whenever possible. We love opinions. We love it even more when you back them up.”

Respect other people, RT and link to those you are inspired by. It builds your network and makes you attractive to likeminded people. Everybody loves a team player.

Intel “Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at Intel and in the world.”

Think about what value you give to your followers and friends. Give them insight, make them laugh or make them cry but don’t just drain their life force with needy ramblings.

BBC “With conversations, participate online; don’t “broadcast” messages to users.”

Social networks are called that for a reason, remember to listen and engage. You wouldn’t pick up the phone and expect the other person just to listen without response.

Reuters “Don’t threaten our hard-earned reputation for independence and freedom from bias or our brand.”

Your followers and friends will have perceptions of who you are based on what you say. Be honest and open and be responsible for what you write.

Times Warner Cable “Refrain from engaging in heated discussion and use good judgment when expressing opinions that may pose a potential conflict. Do not post angry comments or attack individuals engaging in the discussion.”

Courtney Love was the first to be sued for libel and others have followed. There is little possibility for explanation in 140 characters and so little differentiation between opinion and fact. Check your emotions before you tweet.

Coca-Cola “Be conscious when mixing your business and personal lives. Online, your personal and business personas are likely to intersect. Keep this in mind when publishing information online that can be seen by more than friends and family, and know that information originally intended just for friends and family can be forwarded on.”

Reflecting your personality is good, being aware is better. We’ve heard about Domino’s Pizza workers posting their shenanigans on YouTube and countless dismissals following updates on Facebook. Surely the world knows by now that what goes on in social media is, by definition, social?

Former BBC producer Kate Pickering has worked in broadcast, innovation and digital media for 14 years. She is Director of media140 delivering events and workshops in the UK, mainland Europe and Australia on the transformation of business using social technologies. A collaborative innovation enthusiast and a firm believer the web is for good as well as play Kate is focused on what’s new and what’s next to better business. She has recently become Innovation Programme Leader at Co-operatives UK. Connect with Kate here.

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