Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Love Twitter = It's Time for a Policy!

At the request of management and for the record, the opinions expressed here are my own and no reflection of my employer, I've begun working on a Social Media policy with the best and brightest and youngest of our management talent and have found that the best social media policies address most of the following six (6) key items. Do you hear that lawyers, only six!

There's the IBM policy, the list from 123, the AP policy, the policy from SHRM, the policy from ASTD, even the point of view of the IFA, And the lawyers. About 30 polices later, we realized they all attempt to do the same basic thing: CYA. For your own policy however, first you'll have to decide which kind of policy you want.

The two options are:
1) To allow blogging, social media and conversation to take place between workers and customers (hey, it's informal learning, relationship and trust building).
2) To prohibit social media, at all costs, with some draconian legalese (er, whatever).

<-- this image borrowed from, um, someone's blog.
Assuming your company is bright enough to choose option 1, here are six things to consider in your organization's official social media policy:

1) Protect your company, brand, image, proprietary content and all that. You wouldn't air you dirty undies outside the front door of your office building, so why do it on the internet?

2) Use your own voice and identify that voice. If like me, you have your own personal blog, or are addicted to Facebook and Twitter, then be clear that you're not speaking on behalf of the company. I'm not. That's why my online persona is PearlFlipper, geez. Sample disclaimer: "The opinions expressed on this site are my own and in no way reflect the opinions of my employer".

3) Don't answer PR/Marketing queries. If you're hanging out in the blogoshphere, someone is likely to contact you about 'official' information. Send them to the PR department, or the laywers, if you have some. Realize you're not the company spokesperson, (unless you are . . .)

4) If you're working on company equipment, well, let's be fair and keep it work related? IM to ask questions. Follow your customers on Twitter and pay them compliments on Facebook, but schedule your movie date on your own time, after hours or during lunch. Have some respect.

5) Comply with all the other rules you agreed to in the Employee Handbook, Code of Conduct, Values plastered in the elevator lobby and all that. In other words, don't do or say anything that wouldn't be appropriate on the job.

6) Obey the law. Don't post other people's content without permission, download music illegally, take credit for ideas that aren't yours, or ahem, anything else prohibited by law.

To be safe, have a lawyer take a look at your policy, and let them add all those extra words. But then jump right in and start trusting your people to use their judgement and lever ALL the productivity tools available on the job and within the blogosphere.

P.S. The opinions expressed on this post are my own and in no way reflect the opinions of my employer. :-)

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