4 Examples of Social Media Policies

by Erin Everhart on Apr 29, 2011

Social Media Policy Examples
Your company needs a social media policy, and it should not be as short as “use your common sense.”

A year ago, we here at 352 Media Group were guilty of that problem. We had a small, yet budding, marketing department and we never had much need for something formal.

Instead, we took the “use your head and don’t be stupid” kind of approach. With only 1-2 people posting on behalf of the company, it worked.

Now we encourage all employees — even our web developers and sales team — to participate and engage through our company social accounts and their personal accounts. With more people involved, a social media policy is becoming more of a necessity than a suggestion.

As we begin to craft our own formal policy, we looked at a range of other companies to see get some ideas. Another great starting point is a social media policy template.

Take a look at the below examples and let us know in the comments how your company directs its employees to interact with social media online.

1. Coca-Cola

Coca Cola

Coca-Cola’s brands may be some of the most discussed on social media, so their policy is centered on how to properly engage with the people doing the talking. The highlights:

  • They identify themselves as a marketing company
  • Ways to ensure their 5 core values are reflected in social media
  • “Have fun, but be smart”

Coca-Cola also recognizes the differences between an official spokesperson speaking on behalf of the company and of individual employees speaking about the company, something that often gets forgotten.

Full text here.

2. Razorfish

Razorfish

Razorfish’s Social Influence Marketing Guidelines starts straight and to the point: “If you are not using Social Influence Marketing in your job, please get started.” They put much of the responsibility on the poster; it’s a “use common sense” policy, but clearly written out with questions to ask yourself before making anything public. Some highlights for the policy include:

  • Questions to ask yourself before posting
  • Specific guidelines relating to Twitter and business blogging
  • Examples of where their guidelines would and would not apply

They also address one of the biggest concerns with social media in the workplace — productivity — rather diplomatically: “Don’t neglect the social values, but also be practical: we have demands of our clients to meet, too.”

Full text here.

3. Washington Post

The Washington Post

Washington Post, on the other hand, isn’t as carefree. You may remember that they, and many other news organizations, banned their journalists from participating in Stewart/Colbert Rally back in October. Their social media policy isn’t very different.

“We must remember that Washington Post journalists are always Washington Post journalists,” it reads in the first paragraph. And as such, WaPo went on to essentially ban posting anything online, even in private accounts, that “could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.

This is pretty standard for news organizations, to avoid the appearance of bias, and likely more strict than most businesses need to worry about.

Full text here.

4. Cisco

Cisco

Cisco took the most formal approach when it comes to their Internet Postings Policy. They actually only mention “social” once throughout the document. The highlights:

  • Not circulating anything that you didn’t write yourself unless permitted.
  • Having authorization from your manager before speaking on the company’s behalf.
  • They can update/modify the policy whenever they like (although it hasn’t been since 2008.)

Cisco also became notorious when one of their partner advocates called out the one unfortunate job applicant who tweeted her way out of job. Clearly, some of their employees know how to listen.

Full text here.

The results

Many of these listed were outdated by at least two years. Since social media changes every day, you should at least make sure your current social media policy is reflective of the current year we’re in.

Social media policies are also as diverse as the people who use social media. Like anything within your company, the social media policy should reflect your business values. Use the above examples for brainstorming and inspiration to help craft your own policy.

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Does your company have a social media policy? Is it the right policy? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Post Author

Erin Everhart is the director of social media & Web marketing for 352 Media Group, a digital marketing and Web design company, where she specializes in social media marketing, search engine optimization and content management....

  • http://twitter.com/Peter352 Peter VanRysdam

    Great post! It does seem that common sense isn’t a great policy, since many online seem to be lacking there!

  • http://twitter.com/urnhart/ John Earnhardt

    Erin, thanks much for including Cisco in your list…below is our entire document on “Social Media Guidelines.” And, as you note, social media policies and guidelines evolve as social media evolves.

    http://www.slideshare.net/CiscoSystems/cisco-social-media-guidelines-june-2010

  • http://twitter.com/erinever Erin Everhart

    Your welcome, John. Thanks for making it public for everyone to see!

  • http://twitter.com/w3consulting W3 Consulting

    Working with many

  • http://twitter.com/w3consulting W3 Consulting

    Working with many small businesses and small non-profit / community-based organizations, we find that many are afraid of writing down policies. We encourage them all to use examples like these major companies and brands (Thanks, Erin!), but also, to allay fears, we recommend that they put these draft documents in front of technology-savvy business and legal advisors before they publish it to their company/organization. A second set of eyes, especially those of a trusted business attorney or other business advisor, is always good.

    Also, I wholeheartedly recommend this book on helping you develop not just a Social Media policy but a substantive and useful set of policies and guidelines for digital communications: http://goo.gl/0xGD8

  • http://www.rtraction.com David Billson

    You can also use http://socialmedia.policytool.net – free social media policy generator :)

  • http://www.rtraction.com David Billson

    You can also use http://socialmedia.policytool.net – free social media policy generator :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/markschambach Mark Schambach

    I really like Intel’s social media policy. It is formal without being overly corporate and is a great starting point for most of my clients. It provides employees with substantive guidance and support while encouraging employee participation ~ http://www.intel.com/sites/sitewide/en_us/social-media.htm

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  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

    I love the idea of having people ask themselves questions before they just emotionally dump online. Especially if their words can wreck your image. That’s almost completely what parody sites like failbook revolve around, people getting caught up in the heat of the moment and saying something they wish could take back with hind sight being 20/20.

    Another thing I loved was seeing Coke call themselves a marketing company instead of soft drink company. That is very astute.

    Great examples to follow here Erin. Thanks for taking the time to put them together to share here.

  • http://twitter.com/pologroundsM Prabhat Shah

    It is known fact that people share quite a lot of their feeling in Facebook or Twitter. It is nice to have information shared for transparency but this habit does not go in a good way always like the case of the employee who shared feelings about the job. It is quite scary how much you can dig out of social media now a days!

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  • http://twitter.com/erinever Erin Everhart

    Thanks for sharing, Mark!

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  • Marco Frijlink

    Maybe also interesting, our recent social media policy generator: http://budeco.co.uk/services/online-social-media/social-media-policy-generator/

  • Yvan Lamoureux

    I thought  this a great hands on approach to a topic that has been less then “common sense” . You left the reader to read in their own solution by providing some culturally significant brands and companies. Great content…. great topic.