Posted by: East and West | 2009/08/15

Defining a Social Media Policy

This week I was asked to provide input into my company’s policy on employee participation in online social networks. After reviewing multiple articles and the policies of other companies, I recommended including the following verbiage:


The company provides internet, email and instant messaging (IM) capabilities to help you do your job faster and smarter, and be a well-informed business person. The facilities to provide that access represent a considerable commitment of company resources for telecommunications, networking, software, storage, etc.

The social media on the internet – including chat rooms, newsgroups, blogs, and networking sites – allow individual users the ability to disseminate facts and opinions. In doing so, please observe the following guidelines:

  • You are personally responsible for everything you post online. What you publish will be public information and will be accessible for a very long time. Identify yourself when you discuss matters relating to the company and our operations. Unless your online activity is job-related and supervised by your superiors, you must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on the company’s behalf.
  • Abide by existing rules. All existing company policies apply to your conduct online, especially those that pertain to intellectual property protection, privacy, misuse of company resources, sexual harassment, and treating associates with respect. Do not cite or reference customers, partners, or suppliers without their approval. Whenever possible, provide attribution and links back to your information sources, or be prepared to do so when requested. Respect copyright, fair use, and financial disclosure rules.
  • Be mindful of information and data security. Do not disclose information that is confidential, internal, or proprietary to this or any other company.
  • Be respectful and courteous. Don’t pick fights or use inflammatory or foul language. Be the first to correct your own mistakes and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
  • Add value. Provide worthwhile information that your readers will find useful. Only post material that you know is factual and accurate; even opinion needs to be grounded in fact and logic to be credible.

Anything you post on the internet using company resources or referring to the company and its banners can be construed, rightly or wrongly, as representing the company’s viewpoint. Please act responsibly and use common sense, and do not post anything that will place the company in an inappropriate light.

If you encounter any posts by other individuals, regardless of their affiliation, that are derogatory to the company, place the company in an inappropriate light, or are inaccurate or false, please bring these posts to the attention of the public relations group immediately. Do not engage in an online debate with the entity.

Also please contact the public relations group if your blog or online commentary attracts the attention of the media.

The company at some point may request that you temporarily confine your blogging or other forms of commentary to topics unrelated to the company. The company may even request that you cease all online commentary altogether. This may occur if the company believes this would be necessary or advisable to ensure compliance with government or industry regulations, or if your blogging or online commentary violates the guidelines described above.


What have I missed? understated? overstated?


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