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Corporate Social Media Policies

I took a sample of the many shown here: http://twitpwr.com/2Ff/ and read through them; it is very interesting to see the differences in approach and content:

  • Some do a really good job of explaining the possibilities and reasons why employees/members of the organization would want to participate; while at the same time presenting guidelines to “keep them and the company safe”
  • Some are simply a liability control device; clearly delineate what the organization is responsible for (little) and what the individual needs to look out (lots).
    Some are simply control devices; the almost amount to “don't do it on our dime” and “don't speak about work, we have official channels for that”.
  • Some are created thinking about a new communication device; and either ignore or prohibit the public aspect of it completely.
Below detailed comments on the four policies I reviewed, but here my comments/recommendations:

  • All corporations/organizations should anchor their social media guidelines/policies in their business conduct guidelines; social media presents new forms of communication and relationship management but the business conduct guidelines should simply be extended and applied to this space.
  • Guidelines should do a good job of encouraging; by helping people understand the benefits this can bring to the organization they work for as well as themselves as individuals.
    Clear “limits” should be drawn; I like how HP and IBM have done it.
  • Mistakes should be assumed; expectations should be set and what will be the process to deal with those. (see HP below)
  • Unavoidable: Liability and Risk must be controlled; clear guidelines regarding Copyright, IP and Confidentiality aspects should be put forward.
What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

Detailed comments below:
IBM: http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html
Snippet from the top:
“These guidelines aimed to provide helpful, practical advice—and also to protect both IBM bloggers and IBM itself”

  • Grounds these on IBM's “Business Conduct Guidelines” http://www.ibm.com/investor/corpgovernance/cgbcg.phtml
  • Requests employees identify themselves; while making sure they protect their privacy.
  • Recognizes the choice of their employees to participate as personal; and inherently transforming of the way IBM operates internally and externally.
  • Explicitly prohibits covert or deceiving use “IBMers should not use these media for covert marketing or public relations.”
  • Clearly draws the line: “You must not comment on confidential IBM financial information such as IBM's future business performance, business plans, or prospects anywhere in world..”

Harvard Law School: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/terms-of-use/
Snippet from the top:

  • “We don't mean to turn you off from blogging by immediately inundating you with legalese, but we need to make clear our respective rights and responsibilities related to this service.”
  • Very ‘Legal” Tone throughout (I guess it is obvious): “Rights in the Content You Submit”, “Disclaimer of Warranties and Limitation of Liability”, “”, etc.
  • Almost no mention of the opportunity, no encouragement for individuals to participate.

Department of the Navy: http://www.doncio.navy.mil/PolicyView.aspx?ID=789
Snippet from the top:
“..enhance communication, collaboration, and information exchange; streamline processes; and foster productivity improvements.

  • Like IBM Grounds them in existing Guidelines: “Commands must adhere to existing information assurance (lA) and privacy policy, guidance, and best practices.”
  • Strict “editorial” Control “content not approved for public release must be conducted on sites that are restricted to users with DoD Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates and approved external PKI certificates”

Greteman Group: http://gretemangroup.com/blog/index.php/2009/01/social-media-policy/
Snippet from the top:
“we embrace these changes and are working to harness the technologies fueling these changes for our clients. We also embrace the powerful ability for individuals to leverage and enhance their personal brands through these tools”

  • Business Hours / Business Use: “While you are on company time, please refrain from online activities that don't bring value to Greteman Group”
  • Editorial Control / Who is the Spokesperson for the Company? “Please note though that confidentiality agreements prevent disclosure of all client and Greteman Group business.”

HP: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/blogs/codeofconduct.html
Snippet from the top:
“HP blogs are written by a variety of employees at different levels and positions in the company, so you can expect many viewpoints”

  • Like IBM above grounds the guidelines in the Standards of Business Conduct.
  • Clearly draws the line “there are some topics we won't comment on such as information about financials, HP intellectual property, trade secrets, management changes, lawsuits, shareholder issues, layoffs, and contractual agreements with alliance partners, customers, and suppliers”
  • Assumes mistakes will be made; and sets proper expectations: “We will correct inaccurate or misleading postings in a timely manner. We will not delete posts unless they violate our policies. Most changes will be made by adding to posts and we will mark any additions clearly.”

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