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Sample College Social Media Policy Guidelines

July 26, 2010 9 comments

Many organizations are grappling with social media policy guidelines for their employees, including my own.

Sample Social Media Policy

I tried my hand at writing some, and then refined them by poring over hundreds of other social media policies of other organizations (both in the public and private sector – one great archive is available here at socialmediagovernance.org) and borrowed some of the best suggestions to craft my own set of guidelines that I’m pursuing for approval with the leadership of Grand Rapids Community College.  So for what it’s worth – I’m making them available to everyone in case they’re of assistance:

What a lot of organizations don’t realize is that their employee conduct policies already cover social media, so it’s not always necessary to create an entirely new policy.  When you’re evaluating how to approach it – there are three simple ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it Simple: There’s no need to address every single social networking platform individually, nor to describe every potentially negative behavior – something as simple as a statement reminding employees that the employee handbook/code of conduct applies online to social media may be sufficient.
  2. Appeal to Employees’ Good Nature and Common Sense:  Encourage employees to take the view that social media is no different than face-to-face interactions with stakeholders.  If they wouldn’t try to be anonymous, dishonest, or mean in person – they should hold to those same principles online.  Relating to others well is a universal principle in both the digital and analog worlds.
  3. Educate, Don’t Pontificate:  Rather than trying to browbeat employees into submission with restrictive Authorized User Agreements, monitoring employee activity online or lengthy rules and restrictions – try to offer friendly advice and take an educational approach.  There are social media case studies virtually every day in the news; use those as “teachable moments” in your employee communications.  (Besides – AUAs and monitoring workstations are irrelevant anyway given that employees can defeat them by using their smartphones to access the Internet.)