Posts Tagged ‘policies’

Weekly Reads: Facebook, Marketing Trends and Social Media’s Effect on Stereotypes

Alongside my ongoing book reading challenge, I start off every day by reading the latest goings-on in the public relations, social  media and tech blogosphere. As part of my new approach to creating content, I’m going to begin curating the best for you.

Each Monday, I’ll kick-start your week’s reading by sharing some of the most interesting pieces I’ve read over the previous week. Facebook is at the centre this week – four of the seven articles incorporate the dominant social network – from conflict over Egypt, to UFC broadcasting fights, to creating an engagement guide for your organization. Also: interactive marketing trends and how social media may break down gender stereotypes.

Let me know about your favourite pieces from the last week in the comments below.

1. Betting on News, AOL Is Buying The Huffington Post

AOL’s spate of content-focused acquisitions continues – first TechCrunch, now the Huffington Post as the New York Times reports on its latest move.

AOL buys HuffPo

2. Brian Solis: Malcolm Gladwell, Your Slip Is Showing

Nowadays, you can almost guarantee that every time there’s a significant world event, Malcolm Gladwell will stick his head up and beat down a non-existent argument that social media is driving everything. In this piece, Brian Solis offers a counterpoint to Gladwell’s incessant focus on tools, and looks at the bigger picture.

Gladwell’s slipping point

3. Wired: Trolls Pounce on Facebook’s Tahrir Square

In a bit of a counterpoint to Gladwell’s perspective, Wired looks at how Egyptian President  Hosni Mubarak’s supporters are spreading propaganda and disinformation through social media.

Facebook as a battleground

4. Fast Company: UFC and Its Gang of 4.6 Million Facebook Friends Body Slam Sports Broadcasting

UFC – the hot sport of the moment – bypasses the mainstream media and takes to Facebook to broadcast some of its fights. Fast Company notes that “Experimenting with new web integration is a natural fit for the UFC, a business built on the strapping backs of its early, Internet-savvy fans.”

Ultimate Fightbook

5. Forrester: Actual Interactive Marketer Predictions For 2011

Following-up on my presentation on 20 social media trends for business in 2011, here are a few diverse predictions from an equally diverse group of interactive marketers:

  • Ad prices increase
  • Marketing will blend promotion and content
  • Targeting gets even bigger
  • Netflix pulls out of mail
  • Mobile commerce will bloom
  • 2012 will be a year of even more aggressive innovation

Interactive marketing predictions

6. Mashable: HOW TO: Create A Facebook Engagement Policy

Mashable isn’t usually a source to rely on for in-depth walk-throughs, but this piece on creating an engagement guide for Facebook does a decent job of outlining some key areas:

  1. Categorize posts
  2. Establish acceptable response times
  3. Develop guidelines for resolving issues
  4. Create a process for handling inquiries
  5. Set clear ground rules for fan posts
  6. Set the appropriate tone

Engaging on Facebook

7. TEDTalks: Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender

Johanna Blakley talks about the demographic profiling used by traditional media and the advertising industry, and how online communities and social media may bring an end not only to false demographic targeting but also to gender stereotypes in mainstream media.

Social media and the end of gender

(Image: nkzs, via

57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources

Over time I’ve found myself doing more and more foundational work for organizations looking to dip their toes into social media. One of the key elements of this work, in my opinion, is creating a social media policy that fits well with the organization’s goals, culture and risk tolerance.

But where to start?

As it happens, lots of organizations publish their social media guidelines online, ready for you to review and use yourself. Here are 57 61 great social media policy templates and resources to use when building your own. (thanks for the suggestions in the comments!)

Social Media Policies and Guidelines

Source Resource
American Express Open Forum 3 Great Social Media Policies to Steal From (Kodak, Intel, IBM)
American Institute of Architects Policy on Staff Use of Social Media
American Red Cross Online Communications Guidelines
Australian Public Service Commission Interim protocols for online media participation
BBC Use of social networking, microblogs and other third party websites
BBC Editorial Guidelines
British Telecom Social Media Guidelines
Best Buy Social Media Policy
Chartered Institute of Public Relations Code of Conduct
Cisco Internet Postings Policy
Coca Cola Online Social Media Principles
Dell Global Social Media Policy
Daimler AG Social Media Guidelines
FedEx Blog Policy
Feedster Corporate Blogging Policy
Fellowship Church Blogging Policy
Flickr Community Guidelines
General Motors Blogger Policy
Georgia Tech Guidelines for Student Blogging
Harvard Law School Corporate Blogging Policies and Guidelines
Hill & Knowlton Pledge for Bloggers
HP Blogging Code of Conduct
IBM Social Computing Guidelines
Intel Social Media Guidelines
International Olympic Committee IOC Blogging Guidelines
Jaffe PR Social Media Policy Procedures and Social Network Policy Procedures
Kaiser Permanente Social Media Policy
Kodak Social Media Tips
Krones AG Tips for using social media (English and German
LiveWorld Creating social media guidelines for your employees
Mayo Clinic Participation Guidelines
Mayo Clinic Comment Policy
Mayo Clinic For Mayo Clinic Employees
Mosman Municipal Council Twitter Guidelines
Opera Employee Blogging Policies
Oracle Social Media Participation Policy
Plaxo Communication (Blogging) Policy
Porter Novelli Blogging & Social Media Policy
Razorfish Employee Social Influence Marketing Guidelines
Reuters Social Media Guidelines
Robert Scoble The Corporate Weblog Manifesto
U.S. Air Force Blog Assessment
U.S. Air Force New Media and the Air Force
U.S. Coast Guard Social Media – The Way Ahead
U.K. Civil Service Principles for Participation Online
Yahoo! Employee Blog Guidelines

Other Social Media Policy Resources

Source Resource
Dave Fleet Corporate Social Media Policies eBook Blogging and Social Media Policy Sample
Business Week A Twitter Code of Conduct
Doug Cornelius Blogging/Social Internet Policy (for law firms)
Electronic Frontier Foundation How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)
Elizabeth Hannan Corporate Social Media Policy Guidelines
Mashable Should Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?
New PR Wiki Blogging Policies List
Nonprofit Technology Network Tips for Writing Your First Social Media Policy
Shift Communications Social Media Guidelines Template
rtraction Policy Tool for Social Media
Social Computing Journal Enterprise Social Media Usage Policies and Guidelines
Social Media Governance Policy Database
SocialFish Social Media, Risk, and Policies for Associations
SocialFish Drafting Social Media Guidelines

Corporate Social Media Policies Ebook

Earlier this year I published a short series of posts on how to go about creating social media policies for your organization.

I’ve now pulled the essence of these posts into an ebook on corporate social media policies, to make the content even easier to reference when you’re working on these documents for your organization. You can download the Social Media Policies Ebook here, or check it out on SlideShare.

View more documents from Dave Fleet.

Social Media Policies For Your Company: External Policies

In my last post we explored the policies that companies should consider internally, within their organization, when getting started in social media.

This time we’ll take a look at the social media policies that organizations might consider posting publicly, for everyone to see. There are two:

  1. Comment moderation policy
  2. Interaction policy

Comment moderation policy

Comment moderation policies are closely related to one of the “norms” of social media, and one of the aspects which organizations that can find hardest to stomach: People expect that when they leave a comment, it will appear on the site.

If someone posts a comment and it doesn’t appear on the site, they may react badly. These reactions can range from repeated attempts to post comments, letters to your boss, to independent posts on other sites that are out of your control, through to sparking the organization of activist activities on an ongoing basis.

Frankly though, if you have an official blog you may want to review comments before posting them. You’re probably quite sensitive about the site content anyway, and you know that the Google has a very long memory.

So how do you protect your organization from a consumer backlash, while protecting the conversation on your site from being derailed?

You publish a comment moderation policy, to which you can point if you have to reject someone’s comment. It’s out there, up-front, and nothing is hidden so people should have no complaints if they violate it. Think of it as an insurance policy, just in case something goes wrong.

Consider covering the following:

  • Language and manners: Will you reject comments which include offensive or inappropriate language?
  • Personal attacks: Will you rule out personal attacks? Ideally you might allow people to question or argue the content – after all, this medium is about conversation. Aggressive attacks, though, are another thing.
  • On-topic comments: What will you do with comments that veer away from the topic of the post or other peoples’ comments?
  • Comment spam: Will you allow comments that appear to be spam?
  • Number of links: Do you want to limit the number of links that you will allow? Will you use no-follow links?
  • Blocking: Will you take action against repeat offenders?
  • Contact: Will you provide a way for commenters to contact someone if their comment is not approved, or if they have other questions?

Online interaction policy

Let’s say you recognize the importance of listening and, as your online efforts mature, you’re starting to engage with the people talking online about your industry. The trouble is, you know that once you start to engage with people online they’ll expect it and you know that you’re not going to want to respond to everyone. You should try to avoid the “dark side” of social media.

How do you draw the line? 

As with your comment moderation, you state up-front which conversations you will engage in, and which you won’t. Again, having this posted publicly on your site gives you the ability to point to it if someone asks why you haven’t responded to their posting.

An interaction policy also helps by adding some credibility to your approach, as you can publicly set clear standards for your interactions. This has the additional benefit of reinforcing your standards with your employees.

You may want to consider the following facets of an engagement policy:


  • Spam and off-topic comments: Will you respond to spam or off-topic comments? Likely not.
  • Defamation: You may want to avoid responding to defamatory remarks.
  • Misinformation: Ideally, you should aim to correct misinformation as soon as possible. Remember, if people don’t see a correction they may assume an incorrect statement to be true.
  • Dissent: What’s your approach to commenters who simply disagree with you? Will you debate with them? Will you avoid the conversation? Where do you draw the line between dissent and trolling?


  • Timeliness: Assuming your processes allow for it (which they ideally should), consider stating that you will reply to online comments as soon as possible.
  • Honesty and accuracy: Consider stating that you will take all possible steps to ensure that what you post is complete and accurate.
  • Error correction: Make it clear that if you post something that you discover is inaccurate, you will endeavour to correct it immediately.
  • Confidentiality: Publicly state that you will not discuss confidential information.
  • Disclosure: Note that when employees engage  in public conversations about the organization, they will disclose their affiliation.

Your interaction policy will also benefit from an internal component – a clearly-defined process for how to go about those interactions. The US Air Force has a well thought-out decision tree that lays out the considerations for whether to respond to posts. You may want to tweak it for your organization, but it provides an excellent starting point.

Beyond this, though, clearly lay-out who is responsible for what in your process, and the timelines involved. As Alex de Bold said to me last week, social media moves in dog years. You won’t have time to figure this out on the fly. Will you triage posts? What approvals are needed at each level?

Thinking this through in advance will not only make your life easier, it may also save you if things do go wrong at some point and people ask why things were handled a certain way.


This is the final part of a three-part series on social media policies. To get the full story, check out the rest of the social media policy series. Once again, a big hat tip goes to Michael O’Connor Clarke for his ideas on this topic over the last few months.

Do you have these kinds of policies? What would you change in the approaches above?

Social Media Policies For Your Company: Internal Policies

Your organization is dipping its toe into the social media pool, but you know you need the right policies in place to set the stage. Where to start?

In this post I’ll outline, at a top level, three internal policies that you should consider when your organization is getting started in social media:

  • Blogging policy
  • Outbound commenting policy
  • Employee guidelines

Step one: review your organization’s existing policies. Your existing employee standards may cover much of what you’re about to read here. If you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, don’t. In that case, consider finding a way to draw attention to those policies – basic training or an aggregation of those policies on your intranet, for example.

I’m not a legal expert, but here are some pointers on the internal social media policies you should consider for your company. Some of these specifically overlap, on the assumption that you may not implement all of them. Edit, tweak, add to your heart’s delight. These are just starting points.

Blogging Policy

With hundreds of millions of blogs out there, chances are that some of your employees have their own blogs outside work. You may have your own official blogs at work, too. 

Your blogging policy lets your employees know where the line is when writing on their own blogs, whether official or otherwise.

Consider covering:

  • Advice - tips on things like transparency, disclosure, human voice, etc – not necessarily rules; rather they’re guidelines for how to approach the medium with a minimum of risk and maximum effect
  • Attribution – state that if employees cite content created by others, they should acknowledge it
  • Copyright – may employees use the organization’s logo, name etc (you may want to restrict their use)? Also consider stating that employees should not violate the copyright of others
  • Ownership – who owns the content of employee blogs, along with the responsibility for the content?
  • Confidentiality - as with the employee guidelines below, consider stating explicitly that employees should not disclose confidential information. It’s common sense, but you should be explicit.
  • Disclaimer – should employees state that they are writing as themselves, not as representatives of the company (unless they are)?
  • Existing policies – note that the blogging police does not supercede other existing policies, and that employees must continue to abide by those.

Outbound commenting policy

Your outbound commenting policy sits between the “blogging policy,” which covers employee social media properties, and the general “employee social media guidelines,” which cover more generic use of tools. The grey area: when representatives and other employees comment on other peoples’ sites.

This policy can be a bit simpler than the other policies here. Consider covering:

  • Do no harm – may employees attack competitors via their comments (which may reflect badly on your company)?
  • Transparency – if commenting on a work-related discussion, should employees disclose their affiliation/conflict of interest?

Also consider the internal process for monitoring and responding to conversations. Which conversations will you engage in? Which ones will you simply listen to? The US Air Force blog response chart is a great starting point for this side of things, though you may want to amend this for your organization.

Employee social media guidelines

As social media tools become more and more ubiquitous, you can’t expect your employees not to use them outside work (or at work, in reality). What’s more, given that they spend most of their waking life at work, it’s tough to expect them to completely avoid talking about it outside the office.

Of all of the policies, these guidelines are most likely to be covered by your existing employee guidelines.

These guidelines serve two purposes:

  1. Protecting your organization by setting out boundaries for what employees can and cannot do online;
  2. Empowering employees to use social media tools by removing doubt over what is “allowed” and what is not.

Consider covering the following in your employee social media guidelines:

  • Boundaries - are employees actively encouraged to engage in conversations regarding the organization (may depend on organizational culture)?
  • Transparency - are employees required to identify themselves as employees when discussing the organization (likely: yes)?
  • Confidentiality - may employees discuss of confidential information (likely: no)?
  • Financials - may employees discuss financial information (likely: no)?
  • Consequences - outline the consequences both for the company and the employee when someone says something ill-advised
  • Work use – is social media use permitted during work hours (may differ depending on whether employees are encouraged to engage in conversations regarding the organization)?

This is part two of a three-part series on social media policies. To get the full story, check out the rest of the social media policy series. A massive tip-of-the-hat to Michael O’Connor Clarke for his thoughts on some of these topics.

What do you think? What is unnecessary and what am I missing?

Getting Started: Social Media Policies For Your Company

Is your organization looking to get started with “this social media thing?” If so, alongside the thinking you should be doing about culture and top-level support, organizational policies should be one of the things you think about first.

Next week I’m delivering a workshop on “Building A Solid Foundation: Social Media Policies, Best Practices And Ethics For Your Organization” at a conference in Ottawa. Thanks to this, social media policies are at the top of my mind right now.

What will you do when someone “talks” to your representatives online? How will you decide whether and how to respond? What if an employee goes rogue and starts posting confidential information online?

Social media moves quickly, and Google has a long memory. A lack of preparation for events like these can mean a slow response, an escalation of issues, and perhaps even lasting damage.

How should you approach this initial thinking?

We recommend two types of policies – internal and external.

Internal Policies

  • Blogging policy
  • Outbound commenting policy
  • General employee guidelines

Public Policies

  • Comment policy
  • Engagement policy

Over the next couple of posts I’ll take a look at each of these policies in turn, the kind of things you should think about and the kind of things they should cover. Sometimes these things may be covered by your existing employee guidelines; other times you may need to come up with new approaches.

Don’t worry; it’s not that complicated. It just needs a little thought.

If you’ve been around the blog with these tools, am I missing anything in terms of policy types? Which social media policies have you found the most useful?