General Social Media Guidelines to Remember
Your honesty—or dishonesty—will be quickly noticed in the social media environment. If you are conversing about your products or services, use your real name, identify that you are representing your company and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, then be the first to point it out.
Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate your company’s privacy and communication guidelines. If you want to write about the competition, make sure you know what you are talking about and that you have the appropriate permission. Also be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and your company’s proprietary and confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully.
Write What You Know
Make sure you write and post about your areas of expertise, especially as related to your company and products/services. Also, write in first person. If you publish to a website outside your company’s site, please use a disclaimer like this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent ABC Company’s positions, strategies, or opinions”. Also, please respect your company’s brand, trademark, copyright, fair use, trade secrets (including your company’s processes and methodologies), confidentiality, and financial disclosure laws. Remember, in the end you are personally responsible for your content.
Perception is Reality
In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as a representative from your company, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about the company. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with your company’s values and professional standards.
It’s a Conversation
Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in professional situations. In other words, avoid overly pedantic or “composed” language. Don’t be afraid to bring in your own personality and say what’s on your mind. Consider content that’s open-ended and invites response.
Are You Adding Value?
There are millions of words out there. The best way to get yours read is to write things that people will value. Social communication should help your customers, partners and co-workers. It should be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge, build their businesses, solve problems, or understand your company better—then it’s adding value.
What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social networks as a representative of your company should be treated seriously and with respect for your company’s brand. Please also follow the terms and conditions for any of the social portal sites.
Create Some Excitement
Share with the world the exciting things your company is doing—and open up the channels to learn from others.
Be a Leader
There can be a fine line between healthy debate and inappropriate reaction. Do not disparage your competitors, and understand that in the event you receive criticism of complaint know that you do not need to respond to every single one. Try to frame what you write to invite differing points of view without inflaming others. Once the words are out there, you can’t really get them back. And once an inflammatory discussion gets going, it’s hard to stop.
Did You Screw Up?
If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.
If It Gives You Pause, Pause
If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit “send”. Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what’s bothering you, then fix it. If you’re still unsure, you might want to discuss it with your senior management or your social media consultant. Ultimately, what you publish is yours—as is the responsibility. So be sure.