Social Media Guidelines

Since we are not meeting in class today we will discuss the homework assignment on my blog.

As a refresher- you were to search the Internet and find social media guidelines from a brand, blog or website that you frequent regularly.

Once you identify them compare them to the guidelines provided in our book:

How to get started:
Should they be clear from the start or should they evolve over time?
Set expectations
Remind employees to remain professional
 Remember to include detial when appropriate
Confusion arises when employees interpret guidelines differently
Highlight the types of SoMe activity that need approval
Approval for advertising, maybe not for faster things like Twitter
Obtain buy-in from different departments and senior team
Clearly communicate the existence of an updates to guidelines
Promote training
Detail who is accountable for social media activity
Be clear about legal issues
Outline repercussions of violations
Regularly revise and update


Do the guidelines you’ve identified stand up to what our author suggested? Do they have everything social media guidelines should have? What makes them good? If they are lacking – what are they lacking? What woud you add?

No class member can have the same social media guidelines and you cannot use the list of companies from our book. Those are obvious examples of exemplar guidelines. It will be nice to see the array of guidelines out there.

Provide a link to the guidelines if available.

  One thought on “Social Media Guidelines

  1. February 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I saw this article this AM – timely and interesting. Thought I’d share and expand our conversation a little!

  2. February 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    The guidelines for a St. Louis Cardinals blog i visit frequently are rather simple: different opinions are welcome, but attacking members of the blog or Cardinal players aren’t.

    Posts also range on a wide variety of topics. It may start out as a baseball conversation early on in the comments, but it could turn into a conversation about cooking or what brand of motorcycle is best at some point in the post. The members are a tight-knit group and are very laid back, but conscious of what to say and what not to.

    Members may receive warnings if they are getting “chippy” or end up trolling, and if it does not cease, then they will be banned. That isn’t mentioned in the guidelines, but that is one of their ‘unspoken’ rules. Generally, the moderators of the blog (and commenters) are relaxed and do not enforce many rules.

    Compare that to a Seattle Mariners blog, which is fairly strict about what happens on there. (Both are blogs owned by SB Nation)

    • February 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Both blogs have their own sets of rules, which is all well and good. It will largely depend on the views of the moderators of the blogs and what they see fit.

      • February 8, 2013 at 6:20 am

        Joel how do these guidelines stack up against the list provided by the author in our book?

  3. apilmore
    February 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    The American Cancer Society has a pretty in-depth social media policy. It’s very detailed, and doesn’t really leave a lot of room to doubt what can and can’t be done. In the beginning, they educate those who are looking at the guidelines about social media and its growth, and it does so in a way that is easy to understand. I think they did a good job of outlining everything that’s important to remember when using social media.
    This particular set of guidelines was made by the California Division of the American Cancer Society. Here’s the link:

    • February 10, 2013 at 12:06 am

      Wow! They really spell a lot out! I think the worst part would have to be that it’s not appealing to look at.

    • February 11, 2013 at 4:22 am

      I looked at a registered nursing company’s social media guidelines, and they were also very in depth. They spoke about previous instances that resulted in employers being fired, and I thought it was a good idea to acknowledge there are problems that result from negligent social media usage.

  4. February 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Limited Brands, the company that oversees brands such as Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, provides a set of social media guidelines for all employees to follow. It discusses various points such as following company values while online, confidentiality, and using the “newspaper method” of not exposing information you wouldn’t want to be made public. For the most part it look like a simple list of dos and don’ts that doesn’t hit all of the authors points. The expectations are there but there’s no training on handling issues if they occur such as being contacted by the media. They suggest sending them to a company email or to contact Limited Brands with a 1-800 number.

  5. February 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I found Nordstrom’s social media guidelines. They state what I think is pretty clear of what is expected of them as an employee. In the first sentence of their guidelines it states that they encourage employees to use social networking as a way to “connect with customers and others during working hours.” They highlight Twitter, Facebook and as acceptable networking sites. I thought this was interesting because normally at a company they do not want you to use work time on your cell phones or computers to be on Facebook or Twitter while on the clock. They remind employees in their guidelines, “Nordstrom pays for all time worked, which includes the time you engage in social networking activities as a Nordstrom representative. Please be ensure that you are clocked in or have recorded your work time when you’re using these tools for business reasons, otherwise we will presume your time spent social networking is not work related.”

    What I liked about their guidelines was under the bold statement “be a good listener.” It states that you should always be doing at least as much listening and responding as you do talking. Listening is always important and acting upon making the customer feel satisfied.

    They also do a good job about guidelines on representing their brand and what you post on social networking sites is not private. They warn their employees that expressing confidential information or upcoming future/sales promotions to others is never acceptable.

    Their number one goal at their company is to offer great customer service. They remind employees not to brag about the company also which I thought is important.

    Reading through their guidelines it almost seems like a lot of this is “common sense” they do a good job of going over what they respect for their company and how they want to be expressed. I could see that there could be some confusion on these guidelines because everyone interprets things differently.

  6. February 8, 2013 at 1:10 am

    So when you first told us to find social media guidelines for a company, the first one that popped into my head was Apple. I searched the web to find them only to find out that Apple does not display them, however they were “leaked” a little while ago. From what i have seen from the leaked information, their social media guidelines are very strict and specific. Some of the ones i found interesting were:

    employees may run their own websites, but are not permitted to discuss Apple on that website.

    Blogs, wikis, social networks and other tools should not be used for communication among fellow employees. This regulation goes further in stating that differences shouldn’t be aired online, co-workers should not be discussed without their permission, and any images relating to other staff members cannot be posted anywhere without their express permission.

    Staff are not permitted to post messages or commentary on any Mac or Apple related websites; whether they identify themselves as Apple employees or not.
    If you identify yourself as an Apple employee, you connect yourself with co-workers, products, and the global brand itself — so conduct online needs to be consistent with Apple policies.

    The guidelines are then followed up by the consequences for breaking them. It says Apple retains the right to discipline (up to fines, or termination of employment), or cut ties of any that do not comply with these regulations. These guidelines seem really strict with some strong consequences. It was a really interesting find.

    • February 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Wow! Like our book noted they tell the employee of the recourse should they break the rules. I wonder if the employees need to sign something. Did you find anything on that Justin?

      • February 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        I did a little more digging and found out they do make sign what it seems to be a contract. I also found that they dedicate multiple days in their orientation to just going over the social media aspects of the contract.

    • apilmore
      February 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Yikes! I would hate to be the one to break those rules. But Apple does a really good job of branding themselves, so I can understand why they would want to be strict about it. Anything that is posted in relation to them could seriously hurt the brand that they have established. Do you think their guidelines and the consequences for not following them are helping or hindering the company?

      • February 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm

        I personally think it helps the company. When you are such a giant corporation, i think there is no room for errors, so you need to be very precise and strict.

    • February 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      Apple also popped into my head first and saw that the guidelines were leaked. I also agree that while working for a big company such as Apple there should be specific guidelines in place.

    • February 12, 2013 at 4:20 am

      In a way, I don’t blame Apple for being private with their rules because they’re such a big-name company and have top-of-the-line products. It is interesting how the only way you’re able to find it is through leaked information, and how strict Apple is about their policies.

  7. February 8, 2013 at 2:50 am

    I reviewed Best Buy’s social media guidelines. I found them to be typical of what I would expect from a big-name corporation. The rules they established are clear, and the repercussions for not following them are also displayed. The bold phrases at the top of the page are important for every company to stress, “Be Smart. Be Respectful. Be Human.”

    The book discussed the necessity of going into detail when necessary, and I think Best Buy exhibits this nicely. Best Buy says that workers should never disclose company information. For example they list , “Promotions: Internal communication regarding drive times, promotional activities or inventory allocations. Including: advance ads, drive time playbooks, holiday strategies and Retail Insider editions,” as being off limits for social media. This is clearly written for employees to understand, and the penalties for not following these guidelines could result in being fired.

    The book also said that the guidelines need to be regularly revised and updated. Best Buy had their guidelines updated last August, so that should be acceptable for most of the big changes in social media.

    The main message that I took away from the guidelines was to use common sense and good judgement. These two aspects are vital for any company’s employees when they are using social media and mentioning their workplace.

    • February 8, 2013 at 3:42 am

      I’m so glad you posted this! I found a bad link to it, and couldn’t access it. I used to work for Best Buy so I was very interested in this. FYI- I never saw this when working there (oops). I agree with everything you said, and I was also impressed with how clear and simple this policy is. There’s no legal jargon to sort through, just simple do’s and don’ts. I even like how they explicitly say how you could get in trouble. Very good example.

  8. February 8, 2013 at 3:37 am

    It was difficult for me to find a website or brand that I use frequently that either 1) had a social media policy, 2) had it posted somewhere on the web, or 3) wasn’t already a social media site. However, in accordance with my most recent blog post on crisis communications per PR Daily, I found Entergy’s social media policy as a pdf here:

    Just in case some people didn’t think this was a crisis communication issue for them, according to Twitter* 231,500 tweets PER MINUTE (TPM) during the Super Bowl were related to the power outage, making it the highest TPM of the night. @EntergyNOLA only had 2 tweets that night to explain. They did not use any hashtags.

    But back to the social media policy. It appears they chose the clear from the start approach, since their tweets and Facebook posts started in 2010, after the policy was published in 2009. When it came to getting approval, they are very clear about that. They list the process for creating new social media sites, who exactly they need to get approval from for all company sponsored posts, and who is in charge of each site. However, they fall short I believe most on the clarity for employees personal posts. They basically say that employees should use discretion. With this recent crisis, I’m sure many employees were watching the Super Bowl. Although I did not find any tweets from Entergy employees per se, would it be within using discretion to tweet out about the outage as an employee? I was also disappointed to see that this policy was last updated in 2009. To me, I think social media policies should be updated annually, because of the quickly changing landscape. They also failed to outline any repercussions other than to state that there could be repercussions.

    I was impressed that they had a social media policy, and that it was available to the public. I wonder now after looking at their very tight approval process, if this got in the way of handling this social media crisis in a timely fashion.


    • February 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      I love the TPM acronym!

      Megan, like our book said only 24% of companies have a social media policy or guidelines. While that may seem surprisingly low you may be shocked to find out that most companies also don’t have a crisis communication policy either!

      Crisis comm has been around forever and one would think companies take that seriously, but advanced planning always seems to fall to the bottom of the stack.

      I liked your idea of updaing the policy annually – I may even go so far as twice a year. With all the changes it wouldn’t hurt to continue to review them.

  9. February 8, 2013 at 3:39 am

    I researched Apple’s social media’s guidelines, and according to blog a few of the guidelines were leaked back in December 2011.…/apple_blogging-socialmedia_guidelines.pdf. I think that the guidelines listed in this document adheres to what the author suggested. Even though it lacks order by topic, meaning you can not easily point out an area of discussion without reading the guidelines thoroughly. Apple’s social media guidelines has everything guidelines should have, especially the topic we discussed in class about the guidelines detailing who is accountable for social media activity. Including Apple’s principles and business conduct to tie in with the guidelines of social media, which is a great reiteration of what Apple expects of their employees performance whether online or in the store. One thing that their social media guidelines are lacking is the invitation or statement about training to be provided to employees if there is a lack of understanding. Something that I would add to their guidelines would be stating that there will be regular updates and changes made to the guidelines as time and technology changes.

  10. February 8, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Gap has its very own spot on Ragan Communications’ website for being a prime example of a company with good social media guidelines. Gap’s policy is clear cut and easy to read. It spells everything out for you and compared to the book, the policy scores high! I personally liked the candidness of the social media policy here. It allowed for everyone reading it to feel comfortable but also gave sound, easy to understand, advice.

    • February 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      I like the way the guidelines were written too. Not “stuffy” like many corporate policies tend to be. These are pretty recent too – 2012. Again, though here is an example of very large company just now only rolling out SM guidelines. They’ve been active in SoMe for sometime now and they are only just rolling these out.

      Do you think they are lacking in any way Amber?

      Also, Megan – did you see they rolled this out as part of their Crisis Communication plan? (refer to my comments to Megan for context)
      “The guidelines were presented last week by Gap Inc.’s social media team as part of a crisis communication conference, “

      • February 11, 2013 at 1:45 am

        I think the guidelines were good in the way that they are relatable and not to difficult to understand, however, I think they are very basic and in the way of crisis communication, they are lacking. I agree with what you said in response to Megan that crisis comm. is for some reason the last thing companies think about but in my opinion should be a part of “preventative” measures.

  11. February 8, 2013 at 4:33 am

    I too had a hard time finding social media policies of my favorite brands. I found some information on NBC Universal’s social media policy which I found interesting. It is VERY strict and requires employees to be representing NBC at all times via personal or professional SM. According to “Share This” not exactly effective and it takes the “personal” right out of employees personal SM pages.

    So, I went to one of my kids favorite brands, PBS. They have a detailed SM policy available to the public.

    It is a very clear, concise policy. If I were an employee there I would have no issues understanding what conduct was required from me in regards to personal blogs, twitter, FB and professional SM use.

    As a company they encourage SM usage and encourage employees to talk about their brand on-line and in personal SM sites. They just want employees to use discretion and “common sense.”

    PBS gives reason early on in the policy which reads, “PBS expects its employees to be responsible in their interaction in social media and similar forums. There are situation whre the social media activites of PBS employee and others associated with PBS can have an impact on PBS’s brand and reputation or could lead to potential legal liability for PBS. And as a result, PBS has created the following policy to guide and protect PBS and its employees as they inteact in social media.”

    “Everyone is personally responsible for any content they post on blogs, chats, SN, forums, etc. Employees must realize they can easily be associated with the brand, it is important to identify who you are whenever you discuss anything related to PBS.”

    “If you publish content to a website outside of PBS that has something to do with subjects associated with PBS, use a disclaimer such as, ‘The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent PBS’s positions, strategies, or opinions.'”

    Compared to our chapter, it has a few hits but some misses too. They are not updating frequently for one. The last update occurred in 2010! PBS also does not address the myriad of other SM sites out there today like Google + or LinkedIn, Pintrest or Instagram. Each having a different set of users/content sharing it would be wise to include guidelines on newer sites like these.

    The company uses the phrase, “common sense” which goes back to our discussion in class. Who’s common sense? Yours? Mine? The CEO’s?

    According to Griffiths, “For the most part, organisations need to trust their employees and believe that the guidelines will help steer them in the right direction.”
    PBS definitely trusts their employees to use their “common sense” and adhere to protecting the PBS brand.

    • February 9, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      These guidelines are very simple and concise. Looking through all these guidelines I see a common thread – “common sense.” As we disussed in class not everyone has the same “common sense.” Do you think by defining “common sense” it would help or hinder the interpretation of the words?

    • February 11, 2013 at 4:38 am

      I think that putting common sense in the guidelines may not be for legal reasons, but to warn their employees to not act recklessly. It may also help novice users understand how to properly interact when mentioning their company.

  12. February 8, 2013 at 4:59 am

    I found the Social Media guidelines for the Ford Motor Company. Ford’s guidelines talk about being honest, making it clear that your opinions are your own, respect in all communication, good judgement when sharing public information and knowing that whatever you say online is permanent. Ford also talks about employees and companies using their “common sense.” I think Ford has a lot of the same social media guidelines, as the one’s listed in the book. I believe Ford has good social media guidelines and they do a good job of explaining them.

    • February 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      I love how things are layed out and designed so when I saw Ford’s SM guidelines I immediately love them. They are clear, simple, easy to read and understand. I also like how they have the logos of all the SNS at the top- very clear for employees to understand. Do they follow what the book tells us? Would you add anything or do you think they missed anything Meagan?

  13. February 8, 2013 at 5:04 am

    On the pistons web site they are clear from the start regarding there guild lines. They request that those who want to do media footage sumit there media creidtitals 30 min bedfore the game is to start.

    They remind photo takerd that they must be at leat be four feet away from the court/team playing on the court as well to remain professional. As well the list or state when the media should astablish when they are in the play room\ locker room.

    • February 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      This didn’t take me to their guidelines. It took me to Google.

      • February 14, 2013 at 9:08 am this is the exact web link

      • February 14, 2013 at 9:08 am

        i must have put the wrong one on my blog

  14. February 8, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I found the social media policies for The Adidas Group. This includes Reebox, Adidas, TaylorMade, and RockPort. What was really interesting is that their guidelines are represented by Sue Social and Media Man. On the first site provided, the design is really cartoony and states “Ten Golden Rules”. They seem to be the common rules that should be in any SM Guideline. The way they structure it is really information yet interesting. One specific example is “Be proud of your company… but be aware that ‘for internal use only’ means you shouldn’t share this with your friends on Facebook.”
    They are really big on keeping internal information within the walls of the company but they encourage activity. They second link listed is their policy more in depth but still understandable. They also seem to be following our books guidelines.

    • February 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Do you think these are effetive guidelines Raven?

      • February 9, 2013 at 11:59 pm

        I feel like they are decently effective. They seem to be more of the “common sense” guidelines, but they really get across specific ideas such as keeping internal things internal. My one suggestion would be to lower the amount of words used for each idea.

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