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!

20 Things They Never Told Us About Going Social

 ‘Pecha Kucha’ (literally – “Chit Chat” in Japanese) is a short presentation of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. The 20×20 format allows the presenter to talk for six minutes and 40 seconds – no more, no less – on a personal passion, project or interest of their choice. 

I was recently asked to present the Top 20 things I’d learned about Social Media in the past year.  I could talk about this for hours. So I imposed a self-limiting Pecha Kucha. It was great fun as I struggled to keep up with the auto-timed slides.

Try it – it can turn that boring 40 minute presentation into double espresso.

The orginal slideshare is available below. But please read on and see my extended remix of the Top 20 Things They Never Told Us About Going Social.

20 – They Never Told Us It Would Be This Fast: It’s perfectly acceptable not to be able to keep up with Social Media. In fact , you can’t keep up. So stop trying to.

19 – Don’t DO social , BE Social: If it feels like an effort – you aren’t doing it right. It should be fun to keep your community engaged. If it’s not , it won’t be much fun for your community either.

18 – Don’t just follow friends , follow people you’d cross the road to avoid: Embrace diversity. Get your opinions challenged. It’s fun to exchange views with people you’d never go for a pint with. Just don’t fall out.

17 – It’s 9 parts about others , 1 part about you: Share the content of others generously rather than talk about yourself. People will love you for it. Think: Every 10th post can be about me.

16 – Social Media is just an extension of your personality: Do it badly and it reflects on only one person. You.

15 – Online is as good as offline – sometimes better: Don’t listen to the snobs who say you can’t form “real” relationships online. You can. And online meetings are just as good as offline. Just a lot cheaper.

14- Prune your followers – it’s essential to growing a tribe: Sometimes you need a trim to allow the new roots to show through. Relationships don’t have to be forever.

13 – Digital Exclusion – There are as many staff who lack digital literacy as social tenants: Line all the housing association residents in the UK up against the HA staff. See who is more internet savvy. I reckon the residents will win.

12 – Wifi is like electricity – people need it to do their jobs properly: A social business is not a desktop business. People need Wifi. No employer can expect staff to eat into their data plans for the good of the company.

11 – It can take over your life – balance it: Look , my other half is glaring at me even as I type this. We all need a break sometime.

10 – The organisations that do it well have one thing in common – TRUST: forget size, forget money, forget resources. The leaders in social media trust their people not to **** up. That is all.

9 – The longer your policy on Social Media the fewer people will ever take part: The Bromford policy is essentially “If you wouldn’t say it out loud in the Cafe area – don’t post it online”. We have hundreds of users. I know an organisation that has an 87 page policy. Only one person uses it.

8 – We all have a Social CV. The worst ones are blank: Google yourself. It’s better you do it before your next employer does. Your online footprint matters. And a digital shadow is worse than any footprint.

7 – It’s not about followers. It’s about relationships: That difficult first month on social media? 10 friends or followers? It’s not about numbers. It’s about interaction and engagement. Always.

6 – Conferences without a hashtag are no longer worth booking: It’s not just about who you meet there – It’s about who you connect with – online – while you are there. Conferences that fail to utilise social to engage the crowd will not exist within a year. It’s like the Premiership – the real money is the audience who are watching around the world – not just the people in your stadium.

5 – People make mistakes online, don’t beat them up: We are all human. We are all learning to deal with this social web. Forgive people for their mistakes. You will need forgiveness yourself someday soon.

4 – If your CEO gets it – great. If they don’t and won’t – leave: Leadership matters. If you have given your all and tried to change attitudes to being a social collaborative business and they just won’t buy it – it’s time to look elsewhere. Other people will snap you up.

3 – You can make social part of the fabric of work: The argument about not having time for it disappears when it becomes ingrained in what you do. Encourage a social workplace. Integrate it. As long as you are still “in the room” – it’s OK to  tweet in meetings

2 – Social Media is the first new leadership responsibility of the 21st Century: The question I get asked most is “how do you manage it?” It’s the first leadership skill that there isn’t a “How To” guide written for. You can’t manage social , you can only be a social leader.

1 – It never stops.

socialmedia247

(Image via @fondalo. Pecha Kucha originally presented at #HGD13)

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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