by Jennifer Van Grove (MASHABLE)
This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
As social media continues to become more mainstream, the chances that your employees will use these online tools for personal and professional purposes are high. Plus, if you encourage your staff to be brand representatives, using the social web to help grow your company and engage with your customers, then you have a potential fireball of a situation where lines could be unknowingly crossed.
You need a social media policy that sets the foundation of your expectations, empowers your employees to tweet or blog without fear, rewards social media problem-solving, and educates staff on things to avoid in both personal and professional status updates.
It’s smart business to have a social media policy, and lucky for you some of the biggest brands have already paved the way and published policies that you can emulate.
1. Kodak on Transparency
With such a big brand name at risk, Kodak could easily fear the social web, and yet they’ve chosen to embrace it, as well as share their learning and policies with the world.
The Kodak Social Media Tips document is available for download as a PDF and is a good read, especially for businesses just getting their feet wet. Their actual corporate policies start on page 10 and provide an educational, instructional, and digestible utility that employees can reference when in tricky situations. It reads like a guide book, making it much more approachable than a standard policy agreement.
What to steal: Transparency guidelines
Why? They’re simple, straightforward, and very clear on boundaries.
Text: Even when you are talking as an individual, people may perceive you to be talking on behalf of Kodak. If you blog or discuss photography, printing or other topics related to a Kodak business, be upfront and explain that you work for Kodak; however, if you aren’t an official company spokesperson, add a disclaimer to the effect: “The opinions and positions expressed are my own and don’t necessarily reﬂect those of Eastman Kodak Company.”
2. Intel on Moderation
Intel, a very active and social brand, has their social media guidelines published online. These policies apply to employees and contractors of Intel who use social media in any capacity.
They acknowledge their guidelines are dynamic in nature and will evolve as new trends and technologies are made available. They also clearly spell out what to think about when engaging in social forums and how to handle the sometimes sticky situation of content moderation.
What to steal: Moderation guidelines
Why? Intel does a good job at breaking down why bad or negative content should not be moderated unless it’s offensive .
Text: “The Good, the Bad, but not the Ugly. If the content is positive or negative and in context to the conversation, then we approve the content, regardless of whether it’s favorable or unfavorable to Intel. However if the content is ugly, offensive, denigrating and completely out of context, then we reject the content.”
3. IBM on Social Media Value
Considered innovators in the social media guidelines space, IBM was one of the first big companies to publish a social policy document and make it available to the public online.
The brand has tried and true social experiences, which makes their policies for IMBers read like best practices learned from real experience in the field.
What to steal: Add Value section
Why? They inspire IBMers to be thoughtful content creators on the web.
Text: “If it helps you, your coworkers, our clients or our partners to do their jobs and solve problems; if it helps to improve knowledge or skills; if it contributes directly or indirectly to the improvement of IBM’s products, processes and policies; if it builds a sense of community; or if it helps to promote IBM’s Values, then it is adding value. Though not directly business-related, background information you choose to share about yourself, such as information about your family or personal interests, may be useful in helping establish a relationship between you and your readers, but it is entirely your choice whether to share this information.”
Disclosure: IBM is a sponsor of Mashable ()
Image courtesy of iStockphoto (), wakila