Since anyone can be a spokesperson on social media, your company should have established guidelines that outline rules for online engagement.
If you’re in a larger company, that means getting everyone from the executive suite to HR, and of course, customer service and marketing. If you’re a smaller one, you still need guidelines, but maybe not to the extreme of larger companies.
The first question is where to begin. You can look at what other big companies have done like IBM or Intel and cut and paste from publicly shared sites. Or you can look to associations like the PRSA or HR sites to give you guidelines.
Another option is developing your own set of guidelines. In reality, you’ll probably do both. The key when developing guidelines is to borrow from the best and adapt them to your company.
You need to find a balance because you are writing guidelines for a media of which you have no control over. This isn’t like writing a HR policy where you can dictate terms/conditions. Social is an open sharing of information and is one’s opinions on a subject which falls under the freedom of speech and privacy issues. Yes you as a company have the right to protect trade secrets and other proprietary info.
Here are some things you need to consider:
- Define who will be the “official spokesperson” for your company and outline the topics they can speak about.
- Define a process for crisis issues like a Twitter storm on a specific product.
- Identify internally who will be responsible for granting permission on industry trends, new products, etc.
- How can your employees engage in conversations without speaking for the company?
Here are some links that might be helpful:
- Enterprise: List of 40 Social Media Staff Guidelines
- Should Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?
- About Dell’s Online Communication Policy
- Hewlett Packard Blogging Code of Conduct
- Intel Social Media Guidelines
- Social Media Guidelines For Your Company
- Ten Tips for Establishing a Social Media Policy
- Corporate Social Media Policy: Top 10 Guidelines
- 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy