Kirstin Beardsley - Setting the Boundaries: Developing Social Media Policies for Your Organization


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Don’t have a social media policy? So essentially, anyone in the organization can say and do whatever they want? It’s time for some guidelines! While social media is about free and open conversations online, your organization still needs to have some thoughts to paper on how to manage the online sphere. How do you distinguish between personal and professional personas online? What things are appropriate and what isn’t? What about privacy concerns? Join this session to learn more about what your organization can do to make social media work for you.

Attendees Will Walk Away With:
• Knowledge of the types of social media issues requiring policies
• Templates on writing your own social media policy for your organization
• Tips on implementing the policies effectively

Kirstin Beardsley
Kirstin joined CanadaHelps in 2006. Prior to joining the team at CanadaHelps, Kirstin worked in other projects and programs in the non-profit/voluntary sector including Vartana, Developing Human Resources in the Voluntary Sector-HRVS (precursor to the HR Council) and Community Foundations of Canada. She has volunteered for a number of non-profit organizations including women’s shelters, a small credit union and a crisis line.

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Kirstin Beardsley - Setting the Boundaries: Developing Social Media Policies for Your Organization

  1. 1. Setting the Boundaries: Developing Social Media Policies for Your Organization
  2. 2. What are we so afraid of? 2
  3. 3. “Engaging in social media requires a shift in the way companies view themselves and their relationships with [stakeholders].” • Social Fish & Croydon Consulting Social Media, Risk and Policies for Associations 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Everyone has a megaphone • Everyone has access to the tools to communicate about your organization with a wide audience 5
  6. 6. Getting Started 6
  7. 7. Your starting point shouldn’t be CONTROL • When drafting a social media policy, don’t start with a desire to suppress communications 7
  8. 8. Start with a desire to use the tools effectively • Your starting point should be to maximize the potential of social media for your organization. 8
  9. 9. Do you need a social media policy? • There is some debate about whether social media policies are necessary – Ex. Zappos. Be real and use your best judgment. 9
  10. 10. Benefits of a social media policy • Setting expectations • Educating staff and volunteers • Protecting your brand • Avoiding legal liability • Clarifying the reasons you use social media 10
  11. 11. 4 Essential Steps – Before you draft your policy • Review existing policies to include social media – Ex. Employee code of conduct, communications policy, online privacy and security, photo posting policy • Develop a strategy for your social media use – Consider in advance why you’re using social media • Clarify roles and responsibilities – Who is responsible for leading communications on which media? • Understand the risks 11
  12. 12. Identifying the risks • Your organization is responsible for the content that you post • Legal liabilities associated with inappropriate posts • Your organization’s brand reputation 12
  13. 13. Drafting Your Policy 13
  14. 14. It’s About Balance Focus on: • GUIDELINES that help you be more effective at using social media • RULES and REGULATIONS to set parameters around use 14
  15. 15. Elements of a Successful Social Media Policy • Clarity – Avoid legalese – Use bullet points • Light, Casual Tone – Avoid punitive language – Focus on the DOs, not the DON’Ts • Practical – Keep it short and easy to implement – Should be intuitive to follow (i.e. people shouldn’t have to find the policy before posting, or they won’t use it) 15
  16. 16. Anatomy of a Social Media Policy • Preamble: What the policy covers • Section 1: How your organization uses social media • Section 2: Link social media to your values and culture • Section 3: Elements of the policy • Section 4: Consequences & discipline • Who to contact with questions and concerns 16
  17. 17. Preamble • Explain: – Who the policy applies to – What types of sites and/or social media tools are covered – When and how updates will be communicated These are the official guidelines for social media use on behalf of Social Fish. If you’re a Social Fish employee, intern or contractor creating or contributing to any kind of social media… these guidelines are for you. - Social Fish social media guidelines 17
  18. 18. Section 1: How your organization uses social media • Clearly outline the reasons that your organization engages in social media tools – Marketing and publicity – Fundraising, donor engagement and retention – Connecting with others around your cause – Building relationship and online community – Collaboration and collective action – Sharing expertise on our issues – Movement building and social change • Helps employees decide what information to post and which tools to use 18
  19. 19. Example As a company, we encourage communication among our employees, customers, partners and others – and [social media tools] can be great ways to stimulate conversation and discussion. - Oracle Social Media Participation Policy 19
  20. 20. Section 2: Link social media to your values and culture • Give people a framework to guide their use of social media tools • Frame social media use in terms of your organization’s existing culture The vision of the Coca-Cola Company to achieve sustainable growth online and offline is guided by certain shared values that we live by as an organization and as individuals: Leadership, Collaboration, Integrity, Accountability, Passion, Diversity, Quality - The Coca-Cola Company Online Social Media Principles 20
  21. 21. Example • Alternately, develop a set of social media “guiding principles” If you participate in social media, please follow these guiding principles: - Stick to your area of expertise - Post meaningful, respectful comments - Always pause before posting - Respect proprietary information and content - When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite - Know and follow the Intel Code of Conduct and the Intel Privacy Policy - Intel Social Media Guidelines 21
  22. 22. Section 3: The Elements of Your Policy • These sections are the “meat” of your policy • Each section provides you with some areas to consider • Adapt to the specific needs and culture of your organization 22
  23. 23. Responsibility • Include a statement that clearly indicates people are responsible for what they themselves post • Make this the first section of your social media policy – it lays the foundation for every section to come 23
  24. 24. Example You are responsible for your actions. Anything you post that can potentially tarnish the company’s image will ultimately be your responsibility. We do encourage you to participate in the online social media space, but urge you to do so properly, exercising sound judgment and common sense. - Coca-Cola’s Online Social Media Principles 24
  25. 25. The “Anonymous” Supporter 25
  26. 26. Transparency • Social media communities are about personal connection and trust • It’s not acceptable to pretend to be someone other than who you truly are online • Every communication can be traced back to the original source • Include a statement in your policy that representatives should make it clear that they work or volunteer with your organization 26
  27. 27. Identification on Social Media Tools • How should employees, volunteers, consultants identify themselves on social media tools CanadaHelps Kirstin Beardsley – with a mention about where I work Kirstin@CanadaHelps 27
  28. 28. Examples Don’t be a mole. Never pretend to be someone else and post about DePaul. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be tracked back to their authors. There have been several high-profile and embarrassing cases of company executives anonymously posting about their own organizations. - DePaul University Social Media Guidelines 28
  29. 29. Examples Transparency of Origin. Dell requires that employees and other company representatives disclose their employment with Dell (e.g. Richard@Dell) in all communications with customers, the media or other Dell stakeholders when speaking on behalf of Dell. - Dell’s Online Policies 29
  30. 30. The Not-So-Savvy Marketer 30
  31. 31. Copyright • It’s very easy to copy information on the Internet and social media sites • Proper attribution and linking back to sources is essential • Check copyrights before posting • Your policy should explicitly direct people to respect copyrights, trademarks and other proprietary marks 31
  32. 32. Example Respect copyrights. You must recognize and respect others’ intellectual property rights, including copyrights. While certain limited use of third-party materials (ex. quotes that you will comment on) may not always require approval from the copyright owner, it is still advisable to get the owner’s permission whenever you use third-party material. Never use more than a short excerpt from someone else’s work, and make sure to credit and, if possible, link to the original source. - Oracle Social Media Participation Policy 32
  33. 33. The Eager Newbie 33
  34. 34. Disclosing Proprietary Information • It’s easy to share more than you should on social media sites • Nothing shared on a social media website is private • Your policy should explicitly state that no private, confidential or proprietary information can be shared • Direct people to check with management if they’re unsure 34
  35. 35. Sharing Personal Information • Check before including names or contact details on social media sites • Update privacy releases to include social media sites • Include a reference to your privacy policy and a reminder that it applies to social media 35
  36. 36. Examples Protection of Confidential and Proprietary Information. Dell employees and other company representatives must maintain the confidentiality of information considered Dell company confidential, including company data, customer data, partner and/or supplier data, personal employee data, and any information not generally available to the public. - Dell’s Online Policies 36
  37. 37. Examples Don’t Tell Secrets. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about your work and have a dialogue with the community, but it’s not okay to publish confidential information. Confidential information includes things such as unpublished details about software, details of current projects, future product ship dates, financial information, research and trade secrets. - Sample Nonprofit social media policy @ 37
  38. 38. The Passionate Defender 38
  39. 39. Be Respectful • Writing things you would never say to a person directly is easy on social media sites • Your policy should clearly state your expectations around respect: – Don’t get into fights – Disagree in a calm, logical manner – Correct factual errors in a polite way – Don’t respond to angry, disrespectful people – Don’t escalate a disagreement • Point to other policies that need to be followed, including codes of conduct, anti- harassment and discrimination policies • Indicate a point-person for dealing with negative posts & conflict 39
  40. 40. Exercise good judgement • You want to ensure that your social networking sites are trusted and respected by those who visit them • Include a statement about using good judgment when posting • People should remember to: – Ensure the accuracy of the information that is posted – Double-check statistics and facts – Think about “friends” and “followers” • If you’re unsure, don’t post 40
  41. 41. Examples Avoid personal attacks, online fights, and hostile personalities. Build a reputation of trust among your peers, clients, media and the public. - Edelman Online Behavior Policies and Procedures 41
  42. 42. Examples Be Respectful. Anything you post in your role as a Vanderbilt employee reflects on the institution. Be professional and respectful at all times on social media sites. Do not engage in arguments or extensive debates with naysayers on your site. - Vanderbilt University Social Media Handbook 42
  43. 43. The Social Media Addict 43
  44. 44. Productivity • Include a brief statement about the need to ensure that all of your employee’s work is getting done • Don’t belabour this point 44
  45. 45. Examples Don’t forget your day job. You should make sure that your online activities do not interfere with your job and commitments to customers. - IBM Social Computing Guidelines 45
  46. 46. Adding value • People should be making a contribution to online communities and bringing value • Include guidelines around value, such as: – Write about what you know – Don’t spam – Post when you have something meaningful to contribute • Include a statement around not offering advice 46
  47. 47. The Activist 47
  48. 48. Personal Use of Social Media • Remind employees that their personal posts could impact your organization’s reputation • Indicate how open you are to employees discussing your organization on personal sites • Draft & distribute a disclaimer • Limit and/or restrict the use of your logo on personal social media sites – It could read as an endorsement 48
  49. 49. Examples A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page… We suggest you include a sentence similar to: “The views expressed on this [blog, Web site] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of DePaul University. - DePaul University Personal Site Guidelines 49
  50. 50. Handling Mistakes • Mistakes will happen • Include specific guidelines about how you want people to handle their mistakes, such as: – Apologizing to the social media network – Notifying their supervisor – Fixing mistakes quickly 50
  51. 51. Terms of Use • Create a separate policy or Terms of Use document for social media sites that you run and/or moderate • Include: – Statement of purpose for the community – Community rules around respect – Moderation and deletion of comments – Privacy statement – How you will use the posts (i.e. marketing material, fundraising etc…) – Prohibited posts: • Photos/videos • Advice • Defamatory comments • Self-promotion • Spam 51
  52. 52. Section 4: Consequences and Discipline • Include details about how your organization intends to handle violations of your social media policy 52
  53. 53. Tips & Reminders 53
  54. 54. Involve social media users • Invite the people in your organization who use social media to comment on and contribute to your policy • They are the experts on how social media communities work – use their expertise • This will create buy-in from the beginning 54
  55. 55. Teach the policy • Don’t expect the document alone to work • Questions, feedback and input will keep the policy fresh and responsive • Hold regular training sessions, especially with new staff 55
  56. 56. Leave room for personality • Don’t create so many rules that people’s personalities can’t shine through • Social networks are about personal connections – don’t undermine that • Let people be themselves 56
  57. 57. Don’t reinvent the wheel • Review other policies and borrow liberally • Check out what other companies and nonprofits include in their social media policies and adapt them to the needs of your organization • Many policies are public & posted online 57
  58. 58. Review the Policy Regularly • Things change quickly online! • Make sure that your policy responds both to the changing social media landscape and your own organization’s changing use of social media 58
  59. 59. Questions THANK YOU! @CanadaHelps 59