Lessons Learned for 20 IT Social Media Policy Documents

by Ana on October 19, 2010

road sign. kelso, ca. 1999.
I’ve been researching Social Media policy documents this week and what’s interesting is how different companies write their guidelines. For example, if you look at these Social Media policies from Dell, IBM and Oracle, you can see that each takes a different stance on how they ‘address’ their own employees. And, of course, this has a domino effect from employees to customers.

Do You Trust Your Own Employees?

For me, the subtext of many Social Media policies is this: do you trust your own employees?

Trust can mean different things.

    1. Trust employees to perform their work correctly
    2. Trust employees to respect your guidelines AND
    3. Trust employees to know how to interact on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

      I think the third point is where most companies need to address. I believe most employees want to do the right thing and take responsibility for their actions. Of course, there are always exceptions and how we address this is very difficult.

      When I work with companies, for example, defining Social Media policies, one thing I highlight is that the documents are only are good as the people who use them.

      To make this work, we need to help employees understand their role in the company and how to leverage Social Media in the best sense.

      20 IT Social Media Policy Documents

      Here is the list of Social Media Policy Documents including Intel, Dell, IBM and SAP.

      Guess which one is the shortest?

      Cisco Internet Postings Policy
      Dell Online Communications Policy
      Flickr Community Guidelines
      Georgia Tech Guidelines for Student Blogging
      HP Blogging Code of Conduct
      IBM Social Computing Guidelines
      Intel Social Media Guidelines
      IBM Social Computing Guidelines
      IBM blogging policy and guidelines
      IBM podcasting guidelines
      Intel Social Media Guidelines
      Sun Sun policy on public discourse
      Making Sun policy
      Alumni Blog Aggregation Additional Terms
      SAP Social Media Participation Guidelines
      Opera Employee Blogging Policies
      Oracle Social Media Participation Policy
      Yahoo Yahoo! Personal Blog Guidelines PDF
      Yahoo! Employee Blog Guidelines HTML

      Making it Work

      How do you see this in your company? Does your company provide support, training, guidelines for Social Media? And where should we start?

      Pic: eyetwist

      • http://www.deswalsh.com Des Walsh

        I love the guideline Deloitte Digital in Australia give their people: when in doubt about whether to post something, ask “what would your mum say?” – that’s respect, that’s trust

        • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

          That nails it. Over here we say, ‘when it doubt, leave it out’.

      • http://twitter.com/OliverNickels OliverNickels

        I think personal trust (or the lack of) is the most important inhibitor for successful company representation in social media – as it should be, not as might be driven by the marketing team. But there is another one – leadership by good example. It is not enough to say “yes, we trust you”, it needs someone to go ahead and lead by good example. So how much does the leadership team trust themselves and their ability to work with social media? To me to answer to that question seems to be a good starting point.

        • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

          Hi Oliver,

          Yes, I’d second that ‘leadership by good example’.

          I once read in a Tom Peters book where he said all CEOs should be made to use the documents, forms etc that regular employees have to use.

          It’s the same idea, really. You need to guide people not monitor them and gives them the tools, education and support to make this step.



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