Social Media Policies
Four social media policy examples:
1. Department of Justice (Victoria, Australia) - an engaging, street-smart key policy elements video.
2. Porter Novelli (a global PR company) - written from a PR perspective.
3. Easter Seals (US disability services provider) - specifically addresses blogging, although the principles apply across other social media platforms.
Department of Justice (Victoria, Australia)
We’ve developed this Blogging and Social Media Policy for our mutual protection. As PR professionals, we are in an interesting position; because we are paid to promote our clients services and products, we may be regarded with understandable mistrust by the “ordinary person” on the web.
Despite this, we are extremely keen to give you the freedom and confidence to experiment (or continue to experiment) with online media in your own way. The freedom and confidence to try out new things, to make the occasional mistake, and to discover new opportunities.
Rather than telling you what we think you should do, where possible we’ve reduced this policy to as short a list as possible of the things that you mustn’t do. We’ve tried to give you some guiding principles. Please read them and understand them, and you’ll be able to make your own decisions about what you should do in a new situation.
The blogging policy has been extended in an attempt to cover all forms of social media.
While you might have believed that the old blogging policy didn’t apply to you because you don’t keep a blog, you might well already do things like:
- maintain a profile page on one of the social or business networking sites (like LinkedIn, Facebook, or MySpace);
- comment on other people’s blogs for personal or business reasons;
- leave product or service reviews on retailer sites, or customer review sites;
- take part in online votes and polls; or
- take part in conversations on public and private web forums (message boards).
You may even have edited a Wikipedia page. Most of these activities can be grouped together under the heading “social media”. So – we’ve tried to extend this policy to include: “Anything you do online where you share information that might affect your colleagues or clients”.
The web is not anonymous. Assume that everything you write can be traced back to the company, if not you personally.
- There is no longer a clear boundary between your personal life and your work life.
- Do not lie or withhold the truth.
- The web contains a permanent record of our mistakes. But do not try to change things retrospectively.
Be honest, straightforward, and respectful, and you will enjoy everything you do on the web.
Social Media Policy
All your current responsibilities to the company remain in force. For the sake of clarity: whatever you do online:
- it must not interfere with your work commitments;
- you must not contain or link to libellous, defamatory or harassing content, even by way of example or illustration;
- you must not publish information that is confidential or proprietary to Porter Novelli, our affiliates, or our clients; and
- you must do nothing to bring the company into disrepute.
Furthermore: you may not use the Porter Novelli brand to endorse or promote any product, opinion, cause or political candidate; and it must be abundantly clear to readers that all opinion is yours, and does not represent the views of the company.
- Posts must not contain or link to pornographic or indecent content
- The company has the right to remove any content
- Employees must not use company blogs to promote personal projects. Links to your social media presences can be included in your blogger profile, and on your byline
- All materials published or used must respect the copyright of third parties
Personal Blogs, Social Networks, Forums, Microblogs, Social Mews, etc.
No paid blogging
Certain companies will pay bloggers to post articles about or reviews of their advertisers’ products on their blog (or other social media presence). You may not do this.
Anonymous or pseudonymous
Write as though everyone knows who you are. Do not hide behind anonymous or pseudonymous postings. You shall not maintain anonymous accounts on Social Media sites for the purpose of seeding, voting etc. Only named accounts can be used for client work.
Your profile must include an explicit statement that you work for Porter Novelli. Include the following minimum information:
- “I work for Porter Novelli, a global public relations company.”
- You may repost your own stories, between your blog and a company blog. However (except by prior arrangement) explicit reference must be made on your blog towards the company blog (“cross-posted at [porternovelli blog URL]”, “reposted at [porternovelli blog URL]” or “reposted from [porternovelli blog URL]”)
Friends & Connections
Use your own best judgment in deciding whether and how deeply to connect to clients, peers, supervisors, vendors and journalists on social networks. Understand that the agency stands fully behind your right not to befriend anyone who requests this in a professional relationship, just as you have that right personally.
Comments on Blogs, Forums, etc
You must never post anonymous comments.
For various reasons, sometimes you may want to comment using a nickname. Write as though everyone knows who you are.
Where relevant, include an explicit statement that you work for Porter Novelli. If you’re working on behalf of a client, say “I work for Porter Novelli, a global public relations agency employed by [client brand]”, not “I work for [client brand].”
Consider carefully when something may be relevant. A comment on a friend’s blog or wall is still a comment in a public space. Be guided by the content of your comment, not the context.
The rapidly growing phenomenon of blogging, social networks and other forms of online electronic publishing are emerging as unprecedented opportunities for outreach, information-sharing and advocacy.
Easter Seals encourages staff members and volunteers to use the Internet to blog and talk about our organization, our services and your work. Our goals are:
• To connect with and provide help and hope to children and adults with disabilities and the families who love them;
• To encourage support of Easter Seals’ services and programs; and
• To share the expertise of Easter Seals’ staff and volunteers.
Whether or not an Easter Seals staff member or volunteer chooses to create or participate in a blog or online community on their own time is his or her own decision. However, it is in Easter Seals’ interest that staff and volunteers understand the responsibilities in discussing Easter Seals in the public square known as the World Wide Web.
Guidelines for Easter Seals Bloggers
Blogs, wikis, photo-sharing and other forms of online dialogue (unless posted by authorized Easter Seals personnel) are individual interactions, not corporate communications. Easter Seals staff and volunteers are personally responsible for their posts.
A blog or community post is visible to the entire world. Remember that what you write will be public for a long time – be respectful to the company, employees, clients, corporate sponsors and competitors, and protect your privacy.
Authenticity and transparency are driving factors of the blogosphere. List your name and when relevant, role at Easter Seals, when you blog about Easter Seals-related topics.
Include a Disclaimer.
If you blog or post to an online forum in an unofficial capacity, make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Easter Seals. If your post has to do with your work or subjects associated with Easter Seals, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t represent Easter Seals’ positions, strategies or opinions.” This is a good practice but does not exempt you from being held accountable for what you write.
Respect Privacy of Others.
Don’t publish or cite personal details and photographs about Easter Seals clients, employees, volunteers, corporate partners or vendors without their permission. Any disclosure of confidential information will be subject to the same Easter Seals personnel policies that apply to wrongful dissemination of information via email, conversations and written correspondence.
Write What You Know.
You have a unique perspective on our organization based on your talents, skills and current responsibilities. Share your knowledge, your passions and your personality in your posts by writing about what you know. If you’re interesting and authentic, you’ll attract readers who understand your specialty and interests. Don’t spread gossip, hearsay or assumptions.
Find out who else is blogging about the same topic and cite them with a link or make a post on their blog. Links are what determine a blog’s popularity rating on blog search engines like Technorati. It’s also a way of connecting to the bigger conversation and reaching out to new audiences. Be sure to also link to easterseals.com
It’s okay to disagree with others but cutting down or insulting readers, employees, bosses or corporate sponsors and vendors is not. Respect your audience and don’t use obscenities, personal insults, ethnic slurs or other disparaging language to express yourself.
Ensure that your blogging doesn’t interfere with your work commitments. Discuss with your manager if you are uncertain about the appropriateness of publishing during business hours.
Don’t Tell Secrets.
The nature of your job may provide you with access to confidential information regarding Easter Seals, Easter Seals beneficiaries, or fellow employees. Respect and maintain the confidentiality that has been entrusted to you. Don’t divulge or discuss proprietary information, internal documents, personal details about other people or other confidential material.