Your Own Personal Social Media Policy: 10 Top Tips

“Companies often want this one single voice but when you have thousands of employees there’s no way you can have a single voice and be authentic,”  – Professor Joonas Rokka

One of the best links I saw last week was about how employees active on social media play a crucial role in corporate brand management. According to the article there is now evidence that social media empowers employees. It recommends companies need to spend more time nurturing people to harness this new and unexpected form of marketing.

But despite this research , which hints at the incredible possibilities of a highly engaged and massively social workplace, another survey tells us that 47% of senior managers believe social media is the biggest threat they face.

Yes – the single biggest tech threat to organisations isn’t an impending cyber attack.  It’s what people are saying on Facebook.

It’s increasingly obvious that there’s a huge fault line between organisations who are on the social business journey and those who want to try and hold back a digital tsunami.

How can we bridge it?

I think this article by Joe Ross contains a really good idea. Everyone take the time to create a personal social media policy. 

Let’s relieve employers of the responsibility for social media (It’s clearly keeping 47% awake at night!). Let’s devolve everything to the employee!

OK I exaggerate. But It made me realise that I do have a personal social media policy. Just mine has not been written down and is constantly developing based upon my learning.

Company social media policies are written at a point in time and can be restrictive – whereas writing one for yourself is hugely empowering.

  • A personal policy is you taking ownership and setting out your own rules and objectives.
  • It’s you saying I’m an adult and I’m capable of representing myself online both personally and professionally.
  • It’s about owning your digital identity in a way an employer simply can’t.

So here’s my personal social media policy:

1: Have a clear strategy for what you want to be known for

For me – it’s at the header of this blog: Customer Experience , Innovation , Social Business. I can still post pictures of funny cats , but that’s the top three subjects I share content on. What are yours?

2: Never say anything online you wouldn’t say to your boss’s face

Assume that anything you post could be published to the whole world and can never be removed. Even things you private message. It’s safer that way

3: Don’t be afraid to be provocative 

This might seem to contradict the previous tip but there’s a difference between being provocative and being stupid and offensive. If your employer doesn’t get that I’d really start looking for somewhere else to spend your days.

4: Don’t talk about yourself all the time

Social media is partly about ego. Having a blog is about ego. But don’t let your ego get too big. Always share others content more than you share your own. Ideally at a ratio of 80:20. Look at most corporate feeds. They usually only ever talk about themselves.

5: Don’t argue with idiots

I’ve done it. I’ve tried to engage trolls. You almost always come off worse. It’s great to see a spat break out online. But just like playground fights – it’s far more entertaining for the crowd than the participants. And when you’re online the bruises last longer.

6: Be clear on how you follow back

Personal choice. But if you follow everyone you might be accused of trying to game your follower count. If you follow just a few you might appear arrogant and self-obsessed. My personal rule?  If you look like the sort of person I’d talk to in a pub – I’ll follow back.

7: Don’t be a robot

It’s fine to automate posts. But just don’t over do it. I did once – posting pretty much 24 hours a day. A few of my friends pointed out that it looked robotic. I listened. I learnt.

8: Share the love – share your sources 

This can be difficult ,especially on Twitter with the punishing character limit, but attributing your sources is the pinnacle of social media etiquette. It’s also the fastest legitimate way to build a tribe. People love a sharer. Sharers get followed.

9: Be clear on mixing personal and private

There’s no correct rule here other than your own. But whether you post 100% work related content or share every Foursquare check-in – you can still add personality to your posts. Write tweets that only you could write.

10: Wash your mouth out

Don’t swear – unless you are funny with it. Like Charlie Brooker – who once said that a social media policy should really be written in four words: Don’t be a dick

Over to you…..

I’d love to hear some of your personal social media rules in the comments box!

16 responses to “Your Own Personal Social Media Policy: 10 Top Tips”

  1. Great Top 10 Paul. No 4 made me smile as I will be using Social Media as a diary for the next month – hopefully it won’t be boring and won’t come acrosss as ‘all about me!’ more all about what’s going on around me.

    1. I think you’ll be excused for that Susan and a diary of such an amazing journey is what #socialmedia was built for. Good luck and I can’t wait to follow

      1. Thanks Paul. Just found this page – have loads of messages. I’ve just spent a couple of hours doing an new Blog and can’t find it 😦 but finding loads of other stuff on WordPress, hope I can find my blog! See you soon

  2. Great list Paul. It’s made me realise that I also have a personal social media policy (not written down and constantly evolving!) and I’m also tempted to devolve things down to the employee as much as possible!

    1. Thanks Brett – It’s interesting that we have developed a set of unconscious rules that we follow – possibly a sign of our growing acceptance of social media as just another part of our lives

  3. Really like this! I’ve started to implement this now I’m using my personal Twitter for work stuff. I saw this article on being annoying on Facebook ( and thought it actually had implications for organisation’s use, which you’ve hit in terms of talking about what your organisation does and the narcissism mentioned in the article.

    Great stuff!

    – Dyfrig

  4. That’s a great link Dyfrig – and a worthy addition to the “behaviours to avoid” category!


  5. One of the most common questions I hear is for exactly the advice in this blog so defo a link I’ll be saving and using again and again when asked!

    1. Hey – thanks Nick!

  6. Siobhan O'Neil Avatar
    Siobhan O’Neil

    This got me thinking about my own ‘rules’. I’ve always mentally kept Facebook & twitter seperate. The first is for family & friends only and I’m strict on numbers of friends & privacy settings. Twitter is about sharing and learning professionally and what’s great about it is that that is as broad as I want to make it. So yes it’s about customers, housing, communities, neighbourhoods etc but its the access to great minds & info on subjects I know little about that I really love.

    1. Thanks Siobhan – I think your “strategy” comes across in your tweets! I closed down my original (personal) Twitter account , started up a “professional” one , then slowly started making it a bit more personal. Although like you , I’m pretty careful with distinction.

  7. Paul, this is very useful and good timing. I’m currently trying to get more people at work involved in social, while reassuring the execs. On a personal note, today I changed my Twitter handle from a jokey, esoteric term to my little old name. More professional, grown-up, straightforward. A reflection of the (potential) importance of Twitter to my career (comms, public sector), aligning it with LinkedIn rather than Facebook. However, I’ll still retweet the Poke and Viz Top Tweets!

    1. Thanks Shaun! The issue of names on social media profile is interesting – as I probably wouldn’t have identified you as Shaun – just as @beautylike!! This is relevant to me as many people think my surname is Bromford when that’s actually the company name!

      Great point

      By the way. Sharing the odd Poke article makes us human and that’s what keeps the whole social web interesting!

  8. Just read it. Simple & interesting. Great post Paul, again. *and I don’t get it with the last words on the last number, whatever* #twothumb

  9. Thanks so much!!! And don’t worry about the last slide it was an english “joke” – essentially it means “don’t be an idiot on social media!”

  10. […] posted before about developing your own personal social media policy – but I took the opportunity during the webinar to refresh […]

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