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In a post I wrote called the A-Z of social media for brands I decided that P stands for Policy. I'm not one for too many rules and regulations, but it is a good idea to define some clear guidelines to help staff (especially novices) to do the right thing.

So let’s take a look at some real world social media policies and guidelines as used by companies. Zappos does a great job of summing it up in seven words, but the detail is also important and there are some fine suggestions here...

IBM

Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.

Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM's brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM's brand.

Speak in the first person. Use your own voice. Bring your own personality to the forefront. Say what is on your mind.

BBC

With conversations, participate online. Don’t “broadcast” messages to users.

With moderation, only police where we have to. Trust our users where we don’t.

Tone of voice. We should be sensitive to the expectations of existing users of the specific site. If we add a BBC presence, we are joining their site rather than the opposite. Users are likely to feel that they already have a significant stake in it. When adding an informal BBC presence, we should “go with the grain” and be sensitive to user customs and conventions to avoid giving the impression that the BBC is imposing itself on them and their space.

INTEL

Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate. But 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 manager or legal representative. Ultimately, what you publish is yours - as is the responsibility. So be sure.

Perception is reality. In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as an Intel employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about Intel by our shareholders, customers, and the general public-and perceptions about you by your colleagues and managers. Do us all proud. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with Intel'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. Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are blogging about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated.

KODAK (PDF)

Be external. You don’t have to be 100% internally focused. Link to other blogs, videos, and news articles. Retweet what others have to say.

Post frequently. It’s a lot of work but don’t post to your blog then leave it for two weeks. Readers won’t have a reason to follow you on Twitter or check your blog if they can’t expect new content regularly.

Be careful when sharing information about yourself or others.

SAP

Separate opinions from facts, and make sure your audience can see the difference.

Be engaged and be informed. Read the contributions of others. Know what the current conversations are and what people are saying in order to see if, and how, you may be able to contribute a new perspective. Participation is the fuel of social computing.

Aim for quality, not quantity. Offer your contribution with context whenever you can. Provide links to other blogs, media articles or whatever sources you think are necessary. Make your content rich and interesting for others to read. Consider attaching documents when necessary (but not SAP internal documents, confidential or not, of course!). And in every case, keep the language simple and flowing. If you start a blog, encourage feedback and conversation - make sure your readers can add feedback to your blog and respond in a timely manner. A two-way communication exchange allows for a more meaningful conversation.

ZAPPOS

Be real and use your best judgement.

Chris Lake

Published 2 December, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

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Jim Gilbert

Thanks for this list.  I had published the intel rules of engagement in my blog.  This needs to be spread.

Regards,

Jim Gilbert

http://gilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com/

about 7 years ago

Rudi Shumpert

Rudi Shumpert, Marketing Web Developer at Marketing Web Developer

Great list! Most of this should be common sense, but it only takes a quick gander at the tweets and other things posted on social media sites to see that this kind of guidance is needed! -Rudi

about 7 years ago

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David Farrell-Shaw

As always Chris - excellent stuff!

about 7 years ago

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Julie Weishaar

Great article.  Most of it might be considered "common sense" by some, but unfortunately, it isn't by many.  Thanks for sharing.

about 7 years ago

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Jozef Nagy

Our approach is very similar. The 4 founding members of our business each adhere to these principles in their offline relationships. So when I came aboard as CIO, explaining to everyone that the online world operates by some of the basic communications rules of the offline world helped our team. While we don't have any hard and fast rules for now, we do plan on bringing in more bloggers and volunteers. Once our list of contributors begins growing, we'll need these tips to be made available to them. Thanks for summarizing it all so nicely.

about 7 years ago

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Mike Stenger

Awesome! This is one of the best posts I've seen in a while. These are all some really great guidelines. It's exciting to see, even though it's not everyone, companies "getting" social media and the enourmous power of it. It's something I'm uberly passionate about and it looks like others are catching on.

about 7 years ago

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Kevin Hayes

Great set of rules of guidelines for participating with your customers using social media. We live in a world that real people are communicating real messages through social media. Companies like blackberry, IBM and dell have been using SM to authentically build their business and provide real value to their customers...oh...and generating high profits because of this. Anyone like profit? Kevin Hayes Internet Strategist - Wake Media Inc. kevinhayes.ca

about 7 years ago

Peter Bordes

Peter Bordes, CEO & Founder at oneQube

excellent post and very useful infomation that shows useful actianable data. thank you!

peter bordes

CEO

MediaTrust

about 7 years ago

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Evan

Great pointers. How about "Be Proactive" as a policy and engage your followers/fans personally on a one-to-one basis. Too much social management is done by not productive enough people doing mass management. Big companies should have 10-20 people managing their social media to do it right IMHO. Also being creative and running continuous promotions, i.e. giving away free stuff, etc..to build good will is a must. Oh ya and getting back to people with lightning speed should be a policy, social management should be covered 24/7 if you want to be all over it...

about 7 years ago

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Liz Cable

Great post,

Eileen Brown told me that Microsofts blogging policy is:

"Blog Smart"

about 7 years ago

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Facebook App Developers

All guidelines are really helpful and the most i like is "Be careful when sharing information about yourself or others."

about 7 years ago

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Renee Revetta

Definitely agree with the "be external" tip - no one wants only information about your brand.  I'd suggest to share external content and RT others daily.  As Evan mentioned, responding to your community quickly is really important, too.

about 7 years ago

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Scott Hendison

This post just became mandatory reading for employees and clients - nicely done

almost 7 years ago

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Bruce Valentia

Thank you for the valuable information and great list! These are guidelines everyone should follow!

almost 7 years ago

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Deborah Overdeput

I've been looking for this type of article/information for a while and was thrilled to see this.  Thank you so much for collecting the content, summarizing and posting!

almost 7 years ago

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Trevor

The one rule I always tell people to follow is: "post nothing in social media unless you're sure you won't regret it in 6 months, 5 years, or 20 years."

almost 7 years ago

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chris

I get this question so many times from clients. What to do about guidelines in Social Media. It seems to be one of their biggest concerns. My response is always the same. It's not Social Media they should be worried about it's the people they hire. If you can't trust the folks that are working for you because they may do something that would hurt the company then Social Media is not the issue.

almost 7 years ago

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Patrick Clarkson, offical at new york post

i know these knowledge until i read this article,thanks your list!!!

almost 7 years ago

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PLANETwebfoot

Wow, love this post! We can really tell a lot about each company and their corporate culture from these social media guidelines.

almost 7 years ago

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Ted Rex

My only regret about this article is that there are not more companies represented. Great insights, thought. I made this one of my three links for the day at my daily "Design Thought for the Day" design blog: http://designthoughtfortheday.blogspot.com/2009/12/12-17-best-ad-campaigns-real-world-smm.html All the best, Ted

almost 7 years ago

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Maggie

I'm thinking of choosing CT internet marketing company (www.3-prime.com) to do our web design and all of our marketing, but I'm nervous about being posted on social media, like Facebook.  It seems...almost demeaning, in a way.  I mean, do I really want my business to have a myspace page when I think it's stupid? 

almost 7 years ago

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seo

It's nice tutorial , some of these can be truly useful.

almost 7 years ago

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Seo Company

Chris,

This is the first time i heard about Kodak PDF, normally all social media blogs suggesting slideshare and flickr related APP's for content sharing. but your article suggesting new things like BBC,Intel,Kodak,SAP..

really Nice article, Keep it up.

Jennifer

almost 7 years ago

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Guido Gihaux

Great article with some nice examples of SMM Guidelines.
I do believe 40% of the companies are (according to Gartner) experimenting on Social Media

over 6 years ago

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Webmaster Forum

Chris,

your post really usefull, most companies and webmaster forums missusing this social emdia strategy with some blackhat spamfull techniques. Hope your articles will help them :)

Kim

over 6 years ago

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Jarquel

Try to add value (IBM) is simple and great guideline. It's very easy to use this frase to lot's of things. For example to blog posting. Every post should add value of the blog and every comment value of the post.

over 6 years ago

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David Ambler

Excellent article. At the end of the day it is common sense and it would be good to see other people following these guidelines.

over 6 years ago

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kellybriefworld

Every business would benefit from having a social media policy in place, but it should not be an all or nothing approach. Instead of having a policy in place that blocks social media completely or doesn’t block social media at all and expects employees to follow policy rules, why not block some pieces of social media and keep some parts of social media accessible? Social media is growing in the business world and companies would be missing out on its benefits if it is blocked entirely. Palo Alto Networks might have found a solution to this problem, they have a new software that has the ability to do thing such as a read-only facebook. I think companies could really benefit from something like this, what do you think? Here's a link to new whitepapers they have created: http://bit.ly/d2NZRp http://bit.ly/bsrh9CFacebook

over 6 years ago

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Home renovations Costs

I get this question so many times from clients. What to do about guidelines in Social Media. It seems to be one of their biggest concerns. My response is always the same. It's not Social Media they should be worried about it's the people they hire. If you can't trust the folks that are working for you because they may do something that would hurt the company then Social Media is not the issue.

over 5 years ago

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LED light

If you can't trust the folks that are working for you because they may do something that would hurt the company then Social Media is not the issue.

over 5 years ago

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omax vs amscope

Its so true social guidelines are not what they used to be

over 4 years ago

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игровые автоматы

Hi. i know these knowledge until i read this article,thanks your list!!!

over 3 years ago

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hazel sinclair, Head of Digital Communications at Scottish Enterprise/Scottish Development InternationalEnterprise

Thanks for highlighting this article again it gives a really great overview. My personal favourite is the advice from Kodak to be "external" which matches very nicely with the SAP view that you should be "engaged and informed" in your conversations.

over 3 years ago

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cheap air jordan 1 mid, business owner at lts

Hi. i know these knowledge until i read this article,thanks your list!!!

about 3 years ago

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