May 26, 2009
/ by Heidi Sullivan
Like the Wild West, social media is so new and growing at such a rapid rate that governing, monitoring or just keeping general order in regards to your company or brand can be difficult. Recently, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other media outlets have received attention on Gawker’s Valleywag, Editor & Publisher and elsewhere for their newly introduced social media policies. Many are critical of new policies and rules (particularly Bloomberg’s) as being too strict and not allowing authentic engagement.
Nicholas Carlson argues on the Silicon Alley Insider that journalists can build a personal brand and drive traffic to their sites through engagement, but that involves sharing opinions, personal anecdotes and links to articles and sites that they aren’t affiliated with. He recommends that they should use “less Draconian” rules like “Don’t give away story ideas” or “Be a human, but a good one.”
Those suggestions are terrific, however, we’ve seen many horror stories where some employees don’t use their best judgment. Remember the FedEx Twitter fiasco and the Virgin Atlantic employees who got canned for badmouthing passengers on Facebook? We all have different definitions of ‘appropriate’ and ‘ethical.’
So how do you create guidelines that foster openness and encourage growth while still establishing what is appropriate for your company?
Obviously, every organization is different, but here are five best practices for creating a corporate social media policy:
Above all, remember the word ‘social’ in social media and social networking. It is nearly impossible to remove personality and opinion from social media involvement – nor should that be your goal. But with a little controlled messaging and a few basic guidelines, you can create an environment that fosters growth through social media without risking embarrassment or worse from an employee.
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