5 Social Media Policies That You Can Love

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I posted last week about How Your Social Media Policy Could Kill Your Culture. It was about the “control creep” that’s affecting some organisations as they try to protect themselves from a social media firestorm.

In this post I want to look at a few organisations whose policies and guidance acknowledge the risks but see far greater benefit in their colleagues being digitally active. Here are five of the approaches I like – together with a link to their policy or guidance. Hope you like them too.

1 – The Police Service

For my money no public service has embraced social media as well as the Police. If you doubt this I would recommend you subscribe to the excellent blog from Russell Webster – who frequently highlights best practice in police digital engagement Each authority has its own policy but I want to draw your attention to the superlative guide put together by Gordon Scobbie and his colleagues. Called Engage: Digital and Social Media Engagement For The Police Service it’s the very best demystification of the professional use of social media I have seen.

Best Bit:

I love the mythbusting that is incorporated into the guidance. Here’s an example:

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 19.19.072 – Gap

Unfortunately the Gap guidance is not available for the public – but the main points are here. The policy itself is issued to all employees in a handy iPhone-size brochure. Entitled “OMG you will never guess what happened at work today!!” it’s written in an entirely conversational style.

Even the warnings are written as you would say them:

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Best Bit:

I love this bit of advice for when you realise you have posted something you shouldn’t have:

“If you !%@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it.”

3 – Bromford Group

Look , I know I work for them. But even if I didn’t I would say that Bromford have one of the most enlightened approaches to social media around. Like Gap – the Bromford social media guidance is written in a very conversational style – and it sets out very clearly the difference between what it calls a business , sponsored and personal account.

Best Bit:

I love the fact the guidance is very visual. This is an inspired way to sum up your advice:

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4 – Kirklees Council

Kirklees treat social media really seriously. So seriously their policy and guidance has it’s own website. It’s jam packed full of advice , case studies , forums and useful tips. This is an organisation who who have applied a huge amount of thought to how they are going to support colleagues and stakeholders.

Best Bit:

I love the 3 Steps to Using Social Media. I think many organisations could learn from this Listen , Participate , Transform approach to going social:

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5 – Southwest Airlines

Southwest are masters in using digital to engage with customers and tell the story of their brand. I’ve never flown with them so I have no idea if the reality matches the sheer brilliance of their customer engagement. If you haven’t seen their community and , especially , their blog – you should have a look.

Their guidelines are more prescriptive than the others – but I like the way it’s just 8 points on one page in clear language.

Best Bit:

It’s straight-talking. I like this……

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These are five of my favourites – but which others have you seen? I’d love to hear…..

How Your Social Media Policy Could Kill Your Culture

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I love Social Media. But really, it’s not that important.

Not compared to some things.

I’ve begun to see a few posts suggesting that companies need to take more control over their employees social media output. That word – ‘control’ – has actually been used on more than one occasion.

An unwelcome trend.

It’s obvious to see why this is happening. Last year saw some big organisations fall victim to social media “blunders”. Although personally I prefer thinking of them as “lessons”.

And we’ve just had one of the most high profile UK cases to date – the redundancy tweets at HMV. That event has been blogged to death and I don’t want to add to it. I’d rather concentrate on what I think are some of the incorrect conclusions that have been drawn from it , and cases like it.

If you somehow missed the incident you can have a read about it here , or you can read my 140 character summary below:

"Company goes bust. Calls 60 staff into sacking. Staff tweet live from corporate account about what a bunch of idiots the managers are."
“Company goes bust. Calls 60 staff into sacking. Staff tweet live from corporate account about what a bunch of idiots the managers are.”

In the weeks that followed there have been a number of suggestions , often from Social Media and PR experts, about how we could avoid these kind of incidents in the future.

Some of the suggestions have included:

  • Only permitting “Junior” employees permission to draft social media messages, and making them go through an approval queuefor senior management to sign off before they are published
  • Banning all your employees from using social media at work and asking them to hand over their phones as they enter the premises

I couldn’t agree more.

Most employees are borderline psychotic. Little time-bombs preparing to explode at the slightest incident. In fact, rarely a day goes by in my team without one of them tweeting “@paulbromford – what a tosser” – just because I don’t make many cups of tea.

Seriously – is this what we have come to?

I think we are learning the wrong things. Here’s what I think we can take away from such incidents:

1 – Treat your employees well at all times.

2 – Don’t employ managers who are rubbish.

3 – Educate employees about the magnificent positives of social media but also the negatives. Support them and learn together.

This has nothing to do with social media and everything to do with leadership and culture.

Culture is what allows my own organisation to have such an open approach to social media. Everyone has access. Anyone can tweet or blog. My Opportunity4Employment Assistant – Chai Podins was set up with social media accounts on his first day at work. He would qualify as a “junior” if we used such archaic terms. Which we don’t.

A risky approach to social media? Maybe. But all use of social media has risks.

It does make sense that corporate accounts are protected. There should be plans in place for when errors are made or there is a hacking. Both of which are far more likely to happen than a colleague going into meltdown.

But if you write a Social Media Policy and it effectively says:

  • There is a hierarchy for message approval.
  • That you start with a belief that colleagues are going to “go rogue”
  • That you don’t trust the people you employ with 140 characters of text.

It will kill your culture. And that will take you years and years to rebuild.

So if you or your company are risk averse , and you don’t trust your people with social media, my advice is simple:

Don’t use it. It’s not worth it.

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