Where do you start when it comes to creating social media guidelines for your organisation? Do you have a policy in place already but feel like it needs to be more robust? Feel like it’s too long/short and would like to see what others do? You’re in the right place.
Every week I am contacted by internal communication (IC) professionals who are looking for guidance or top tips to help them think through their social media policy.
This topic came up again at the Sequel Group event in London I spoke at a couple days ago, and based on feedback from the IC pros there and from regular readers, I thought I’d write a specific article on the topic and share hundreds of policies with you.
Update: I republished this article in 2015: BBC tells staff not to be stupid on social media. It features 160 policies.
Further reading on the All Things IC blog about social media:
The role of social media in Government comms
Are you up to speed with social media?
The relationship between social media and food
Musings of mice, men and social media at Muir
How internal comms pros use social media
The evolution of social media
Who’s using what for internal social media?
The language of social media – free download of my research
Think through whether you want to have a social media policy or social media guidelines/guidance. Language choice is essential in internal communication and how you refer to your ‘rules’ is important as it sets the tone for them.
Policy could imply threat, whereas guidelines opportunity. See the difference one word makes? Set out your stall from the very beginning.
As with any other comms collateral, the culture of your organisation has a huge role to play in what you produce and its format. How do you normally communicate expectations – do you have a ‘tell and sell’ mentality or it is open, two-way and transparent?
I’ve had links to policies on my resources page for a while now, so thought I’d highlight them and include lots more.
It takes time to scour the web and pull together a list, but I’ve done the hard work for you – see below for a detailed list of policies. The ‘usual suspects’ are there, but I’ve also sought out ones from a variety of industries and countries and included links at the foot of this page to video examples.
Found a good/bad example you think other IC pros would be interested in seeing? Do comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
How long should a social media policy be?
What format should a social media policy take?
Who should you involve when creating social media guidance?
All of these questions regularly lead people to my blog and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach because it depends on your organisation and how far into your social media journey you are.
Here’s what to think through:
If you don’t have rules in place and are looking to create them, think about establishing a working group to do so. This should be made up of people from across the organisation – not just Comms and IT. Does your policy need to include contractors, shareholders and other stakeholders? Ensure they are involved too.
Gather your allies and think through how detailed the guidelines need to be, what is the output going to be of your efforts – a document or a video for example, or perhaps both?
Does your guidance have information about social media use not only inside your organisation but outside, for example if you have ‘unconnected’ employees, who declare they work for you via LinkedIn or their personal Facebook pages, are they aware of and covered by it?
A critical stage, which often appears to be missed, is actually communicating the fact social media guidance exists in your organisation!
It’s all very well having the slickest policy around, however, if it’s not communicated it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. So when you’re planning your social media guidance, create a timeline and comms plan around it. I’m happy to write more on this in future, do let me know if you want to read more on this topic.
Update it regularly. Social media moves at pace, so ensure you have a review in place to check what you’re advising is consistent with the ‘social media landscape.’ I recommend at least an annual review – and of course, don’t forget to communicate the fact it has changed or been refreshed.
Involve employees in this process and ask for their feedback and input into the revised guide.
You’ll see from the list below that many of them have revision dates. I’d go a step further and say put date of last revision and date of next revision – clearly communicate with your employees and manage expectations.
Don’t forget to include the policy in your induction.
Equip your employees for success by clearly outlining what the company expects and what they can expect, from day one and even during the interview process.
For example, because I blog and enjoy doing so, I have asked questions about potential restrictions during job interviews in recent years. Part of the conversation and recruitment process for me has been to understand from organisations what their social media policies are and whether they would affect my ability to write.
If there have been such rules, I have worked with them to enable me to continue blogging. Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted for example, that in my last in-house internal communication role, I didn’t refer to the company by name in my biog or anywhere online, such as LinkedIn, the whole time I worked there.
That was because I wasn’t acting as a spokesperson for the organisation, but continuing to blog as an IC pro. Due to being a heavily-regulated industry (pharmaceutical), and rightly so, there were certain restrictions for me to comply with – I never wrote about what I was working on for example. Only now I have left is the company on my LinkedIn profile and blog.
I’ve included this personal example as a way to say there will always be circumstances that your policy may not cover.
Having an open approach and committing to update your guidelines regularly is essential in order to ensure both the company and employees are getting what they need from it and you take into account scenarios as they arise.
So, as promised. Here are lots of examples of social media policies and guidelines – fill your boots as they say – and do let me know any others you think should be included.
I have written various articles for Neal Schaffer’s blog on social media policies and internal communication.
You can read my articles for Neal’s blog here:
Obeying the social media rules of the road.
How employees find their voice through social media
Why use enterprise social networks for internal communication?
Internal communication: Coping with the digital evolution
Recommended books about social media
Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals – includes chapter by Rachel
Share This Too: More Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals– includes chapter by Rachel
Social Media Explained: Untangling the World’s Most Misunderstood Business Trend by Mark W. Schaefer
I am on the Social Media Panel of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). You can read our guidance here:
Hundreds of social media policy examples:
Here are some more I’ve found online:
American Institute of Architects
American Nurses Association
American Red Cross
Amp3 public relations
Australian public service commission
Baker & Daniels
BBC – updated March 2015
Bread for the world
BT (British Telecom)
British Medical Association
British Psychological Society
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
City of Houston
City of Seattle
Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Children’s Hospital, LA
Department of Justice
Devon County Council
Environmental Protection Agency
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
General Medical Council
Greater London North Scouts
Harvard Law School
Hill and Knowlton
Hill and Knowlton – principles
International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee 2010
Iowa Hospital Assoc
Johnson & Johnson
London Ambulance Service
London School of Economics
Malvern Hill District Council
Media Law Resource Centre
Microsoft Tweeting Guidelines
Ministry of Defence
Monmouthshire County Council
National Ice Skating
National Public Radio
New York Times
New York State Bar Association
NY City Department of Education
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
New Jersey Institute of Tech
New Zealand Government
New Zealand State Services
Ohio State University
Ohio State Uni Medical Centre
Ontario College of Teachers
Open Society Foundations
Oxford University Press
Procter & Gamble
Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Trust
Royal Academy of Dance
Scottish Women’s Football
Twitter template for Gov departments
UK Armed Forces
UK Civil Service
Uni of Michigan
Uni of Missouri
Uni of Oregon
Uni of Southern Mississippi
Uni of Virginia Library
US Medical Supplies
US Air Force
US Marine Corps
Warwickshire County Council
Woodfield Community School
Guidance and other resources
101 social media marketing resources via Heidi Cohen
Social Media Friendly Mark
Increasing staff engagement with social media
Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ social media best practice guide
Guide to using Twitter for comms pros
Charity Comms guide to using social media
Some organisations publish their guidance as videos, such as the Football Association (FA). Some examples are below from Boehringer Ingelheim in the US, KPMG, the Department of Justice, Sage and lots more. You can see them below or via my YouTube playlist.
Department of Justice:
Australian Air Force Cadets:
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry:
Treasury Wine Estates:
Eurotours (in German):
City of Salisbury:
Department of Human Services:
St Luke’s Hospital:
Post author: Rachel Miller @AllthingsIC