Social Media Guidelines – part 3

by | April 20, 2012

This is part three of my Social Media Guideline series and the final post in the series.

Social media is becoming a mainstay in how we engage and collaborate with our colleagues, peers and customers.  With the introduction of social media tools into our businesses, there is a need to develop some guidelines and polices.  I am working on a social media strategy for the HEITBC consortium in British Columbia. Please substitute your company name for HEITBC in the guidelines below.  Collaboration is one of the key mandates of the organization and people are the main ingredient!  This is the third of three posts on Social Media Guidelines.  In this post, we focus on guidelines when posting on behalf of an organization.  If you missed my earlier posts, part 1 – General Social Media Guidelines, you can read it here and part 2 – Guidelines when posting as an Individual, you can read it here.

Here are some of the social media guidelines I put together for when you are posting as a representative of an organization.  Employees, Board Members and Contractors have a higher responsibility when posting to social media platforms particularly when their posts represent the “voice” of the organization.

Guidelines when posting  on behalf of an Organization

  1. Apply the General Guidelines – Be Authentic, Be Thoughtful, Respect Others, Acknowledge Others, Be a Valuable Member
  2. Use the HEITBC “Voice” – Be clear in your message that this is an official message representing HEITBC. We seek to have a common voice when representing our organization on social media
  3. Respect Policies – respect the HEITBC published policies including seeking approval for official messages
  4. Be Accurate – ensure that all information is accurate and reviewed before posting.  If you notice an error, correct it and notify the poster about the mistake.
  5. Protect HEITBC Trademarks – All endorsements must be approved by the Executive Director and the Board before using HEITBC logos, images or trademarks in any postings
  6. Timely Interaction – Monitor comments, respond in a timely manner and remember the General Guidelines

Looking forward to your comments and feedback.  This concludes the three part series on Social Media Guidelines.  I hope you found these helpful and potentially seeds for implementing  something similar in your organizations.  I don’t believe this is something to be ignored.  Taking a proactive approach to guiding social media interactions is an excellent way to manage risks.


5 thoughts on “Social Media Guidelines – part 3

  1. Bill_world

    Thank you for these three posts on social media guidelines Leo. This morning we reflected on the social media guidelines in a post by Inside Higher Ed … what I find very fascinating about the various social media guidelines is that the core guidelines all centre around general principles. You articulated these in your Social Media Guidelines – Part 1. From there, different organizations emphasize different values. For example, brand protection may be very important for some, and not as important for others.

    I like the way these guidelines have been divided into general, individual, and organizational guides. If I look at my tweets, I notice that during the week, the feeds are more in line with my professional life, whereas my weekend tweets reveal more about who I am.

    I think that the most important guidelines are the core value-based types that you articulated in Part 1. A reminder of such guidelines and values enables the individual and organizational guidelines. I, thus, wonder if the individual and organizational ones are necessary. Take the ‘brand identity’ concern found in many social media guidelines. If I am authentic in my social media use, I will tend to use any brand identity in an appropriate manner. By having a community of people on social media using the brand in appropriate ways, then the brand becomes more authentic in-and-of itself. And, how many people will use the brand inappropriately? (I am believer in the best of people – and if one or two individuals act inappropriately, this is an opportunity to coach them or identify what issues led to the inappropriate behaviour.)

    Should our guidelines focus on enabling positive behaviours or highlight our fears of what might go wrong?

    Thanks for providing these guidelines and having me think more deeply about this issue Leo.

    1. Leo de Sousa Post author


      Thank you for the outstanding feedback. I really appreciate your approach “I am believer in the best of people – and if one or two individuals act inappropriately, this is an opportunity to coach them or identify what issues led to the inappropriate behaviour.”

      As with all guidelines, people will focus on what appeals to them. My hope is that if you read these guidelines, they we be memory cues for when you interact on social media and allow you to avoid some of the common pitfalls.

      Thanks again, Leo

  2. DennisD

    Hey Leo, I have to admit that I don’t know much about the social media strategy for the HEITBC mandate but here’s my feedback. I like Bill’s thinking, Part 1 encapsulates any required guidelines. We all are mindful of the need to respect trademarks, copyright laws, established policies, and so on, in everything digital environment of today. You could add security warnings like don’t link to untrusted sites, etc etc. All of those are fundamental to any internet usage today, I am not sure if there is a need to break it down specifically for the “HEITBC population”.

    The two points I would find hard to do consistently (and might discourage me in participating) are “Timely Interaction” and “Use of Disclaimer”. We are all so very busy, I can’t promise to monitor my social media feeds unless my employer allows time for that ;D

    I agree that Disclaimers are fantastic to protect the organization but that seems to contradict the informality of social media (which is what appeals to people). They are great when they get automatically appended to emails but could be a nuisance otherwise.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Leo de Sousa Post author

      Dennis, thanks for the thoughtful feedback. My one comment is that unless you are in the marketing and communications part of your company, you will not get time to monitor your social media. This is a personal choice that you have to find time to do effectively. Our organization does not keep a time clock so finding time to interact is something you choose to do if you want to be effective with social media interactions. Cheers, Leo

  3. business daily

    Respect your audience and your coworkers. Remember that IBM is a global organization whose employees and clients reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion. For example, if your blog is hosted on an IBM-owned property, avoid these topics and focus on subjects that are business-related. If your blog is self-hosted, use your best judgment and be sure to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and do not represent the official views of IBM. Further, be thoughtful when using tools hosted outside of IBM’s protected Intranet environment to communicate among fellow employees about IBM or IBM related matters. Also, while it is fine for IBMers to disagree, but please don’t use your external blog or other online social media to air your differences in an inappropriate manner.


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