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Econsultancy’s 10 social media guidelinesOne of the best things about working at Econsultancy is that we’re not sticklers for rules and regulations. We hire people, trust them to do a great job, and give them the independence to get on with things. 

Nevertheless, as the team grows there needs to be a few internal ‘house guidelines’ for staffers, so we’re all singing from the same songsheet. 

Late last year I shared our ‘What Econsultancy’s about’ slidehow, which we created to help new staff to understand what we do, and how and why we do it. 

Now I’d like to share our social media guidelines with you. 

My favourite social media policy of all time is Zappos’ ‘Be real and use your best judgement’, which is about as concise as it’s possible to be. There are some other good ones out there too.

We have 10 guidelines that are – I hope – meaningful and sensible. 

1. Listen closely. That's what your ears are for.

2. Respond to questions / queries / concerns in a timely fashion. 

3. When you respond, remember that you are a human, not a PRbot. A little personality is more than ok.

4. Have a thick skin and take all criticism on the chin (but stick up for yourself where necessary).

5. Learn the difference between cheekiness and spamminess. Kiss the former, kill the latter.

6. Coordination and consistency (of messaging) is important. Talk among yourselves. 

7. Raise flags internally, as and when appropriate.

8. Denial, wool-pulling and hole-digging is bad. Admitting mistakes and saying sorry is good (relatively speaking). 

9. Always pause for a moment in private before you reply in public. 

10. Be responsible.

And that's it. There is an alternative version, by Econsultancy social media manager Matt Owen, who sums up the above in a Zappos-style one-liner: "Be nice, don't tell porkies, don't feed the trolls...".

Do you use guidelines for social media? Anything to add (or subtract)? Please leave a comment below if you do...

[Image by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr, various rights reserved]

Chris Lake

Published 24 January, 2011 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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Andy Harding

Andy Harding, Executive Director, Multi Channel at House of Fraser

I would add the following point to being responsible: 'Be aware of the boundaries.'

The point about pausing before your respond is very important.  A key part about Social media is it does allow for a conversation, it does allow for cheekiness, character and tone of voice but that can mean you ride a much closer line to that which is acceptable or possibly offensive (to some).

If in doubt - council advice from a peer about whether a comment or response is too risky. As INTEL say in their own guidelines - if it causes you to pause, then pause! Sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry...

almost 6 years ago

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Joel Chudleigh

Aim to be helpful when you can be and also know when to shut your mouth and stay out of the conversation. If you cannot add value then do not say anything at all. We all have our areas of expertise so respect others skills and use yours when you can be helpful.

almost 6 years ago

Scott Hunt

Scott Hunt, eMarketing Executive at eSterling ltd

Surely these are common lifestyle rules which many people have formed their communication skills around?

1. 'Listen to me when I'm speaking to you'

2. 'Speak when your spoken to'

etc.. It almost sounds like a guide to dating?

But Seriously, I do feel you have made some good points. The main theme of your article being that people need reminding of the importance of what they say online and how this is a public representation of us as individuals and as companies.

It’s all to easy to forget about the 'human' aspect of 'social media' and that despite all the technological changes, the rules are still the same.

almost 6 years ago

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Dawn

Nice reminder, it's ok to be human in fact probably rather essential in social media.

almost 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Andy - Absolutely right. We're fortunate in that we're a pretty tight knit unit - with a team of less than 50 it's easy for us to communicate. It must be much harder for bigger companies.

@CLARE - Yes, it's all about good manners and common sense really. Should be obvious to everybody but I've found that it isn't always the case...

almost 6 years ago

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Dave Cable

'Don't spread yourself thin'

There are so many social networks that it's possible to have hundreds of profiles, but I think it's essential you do your research on which ones are best to use for your business/brand and use them - then apply the above guidelines!

Great post, just reiterating what you should already know!

almost 6 years ago

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Joe wiggins

Just building on what Joel said - shouldn't there be something on knowing when a response isn't necessary rather than trying to respond to everything? Also, an element of prioritisation. 

I also particularly like point 9. Think before you tweet/ post!

almost 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Joel / Joe - yep, it's not a case of replying to every tweet directed @econsultancy that has a question mark in it. Some inbound questions are rhetorical, others lame, others wind-ups, etc. And for a brand with 1m+ followers it could be nigh on impossible, though I've often said that social media starts in marketing and PR but might end up in the customer service department. Depends a lot on the brand. Utilities companies, for example, must experience nothing but pain on Twitter! Prioritisation is also really important, and is an extension of 6. 'Coordination'.

almost 6 years ago

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Steve Harvey-Franklin

I agree, and particularly those who have been given responsibility for editing, monitoring and responding to social media, should be properly trained, and have authority to "kick ass" internally to resolve any external issues in a timely and effective matter.

Companies should not only have a Social Media Strategy, they should have a Social Media Policy, with such clear guidelines. The short history of Social Media is littered with Social Media Gaffs.

Thanks for the Blog Post

almost 6 years ago

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delia

Love this post - says it all perfectly - especially points 3 & 5

almost 6 years ago

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Janaki Pendyala

Though all the points are helpful, I feel if we take are of point 10 then rest is taken care automoatically.

Anyway, Thanks for an informative post.

Janaki

almost 6 years ago

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david cushman

Be Human

almost 6 years ago

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble, Marketing Director at Koozai

Nice summary, point 9 is one that stands out most for me. As long as you think before you post, everything else should follow!

almost 6 years ago

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