Social media policies & guidelines a must for responsible empowerment

Every enterprise has some sort of social media touching it. Whether it is an officially sanctioned Facebook Fan page, or employees Tweeting on the latest company gossip, social media is being used by employees (and the public).

It is essential that companies establish clear guidelines and policies, enabling employees, contractors and clients alike to understand the responsibilities associated with social media offers.

Having the proper policies and guidelines in place will help curtail common issues associated with social media implementation in corporate environments. Issues such as:

  • The release of confidential corporate information
  • Sharing of proprietary Intellectual Property
  • Effect on corporate reputation
  • Liability
  • Employee time/productivity

Social media governance is an extension of the typical intranet governance documentation (Editorial Policies, Design Guidelines, Intranet Policies & Procedures). It is also a bridge between external and internal web resource use, as many of these rules and recommendations are applicable in both environments. It is imperative that social media governance documentation provides the details for use of such tools that are integrated into the intranet, but must also address how employees engage in social media externally. By establishing, broadcasting and enforcing the policies and guidelines surrounding the use of internal based social media tools, as well as those outside the company’s firewall, employees are less likely to breach the trust that is inferred in their employment.

What documentation do we need?

Some organizations have a single page outlining their rules of play for social media in the workplaces, others have volumes that would make War and Peace look like an easy read. Somewhere in the middle (closer to company A’s approach) should suffice.

A set of comprehensive social media governance documents tailored specifically to your organization’s social media environment will help prevent unintended disclosures by employees, or inadvertent damage being done by unknowing employees.

Corporate social media governance documentation should include:

1. Social Media Policies for Employees

  • Explains the purpose and “what’s in it for me” of social media
  • The do’s and don’ts of using social media within the enterprise
  • Details the legalities associated with blogs, wikis and other social media forums
  • Which organizational group/department owns and is responsible for social media forums within the company

2. Employee Best Practice Guidelines for leveraging social media successfully

  • Setting up for success in social media mediums
  • Addresses the how’s and why’s of social media responsibility
  • Social media audience analysis

3. Tips for successful Blogging, Tweeting and using other social media outlets

  • Short, punchy headlines & sentences
  • Support your argument with statistics & quotes
  • Link to relevant sources & other information
  • Tips on when to use one channel over another (e.g. blogs vs wikis)

These policies should cover the core elements of content classification, channel use, presentation of content and security parameters.


Many organisations have employees sign a code of conduct (electronic or hard copy), which now include reference to the company’s electronic channel use, every year as a reminder of the rules in place with regard to their responsibilities as an employee.

Many people use social media improperly simply because they don’t understand it. So as the old adage goes; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Or in this case, backing up some straight forward social media governance documents, with a little bit of training, goes a long way to preventing a social media disaster from ensuing.

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