• flipboard

Only 29% Of Companies Have A Social Media Policy: Is Your Company At Risk?

Companies are coming to terms with the growth and use of Social Media within and without their organisations and some of the companies that I deal with are grappling with its implications and how to use it in a positive way.

Currently only 29% of companies have a Social Media Policy, so I thought it would be good to put together a list of resources that would assist the other 71% to create one.

Firstly, What is a social media policy? Very simply without getting too complicated

“A social media policy outlines for employees the corporate guidelines or principles of communicating in the online world”.

Why Have a Social Media Policy?

According to Eric B. Meyer, who’s an Associate in the Labor and Employment Group of Dilworth Paxson LLP, what companies should consider from a legal perspective in developing a social media policy are.

  • “Employers need to be upfront with employees that they have no right to privacy with respect to social networking. “Employers reserve the right to monitor employee use of social media regardless of location (i.e. at work on a company computer or on personal time with a home computer).”
  • Employees “should be made aware that company policies on anti-harassment, ethics and company loyalty extend to all forms of communication (including social media) both inside and outside the workplace.” People need to remember that bashing your organization/boss/co-workers online can lead to consequences at work.”

1. 10 Must Haves For A Social Media Policy – Courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby

She says -“Whether you’re writing your social media policy from the get-go, or letting it develop organically in reaction to situations as they arise, here are 10 things you should definitely consider. These 10 tips will help you steer clear of pitfalls and allow you to focus on what’s important: engaging the customer.”

2. IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines

In the spring of 2005, IBMers used a wiki to create a set of guidelines for all IBMers who wanted to blog. These guidelines aimed to provide helpful, practical advice—and also to protect both IBM bloggers and IBM itself, as the company sought to embrace the blogosphere. Since then, many new forms of social media have emerged. So we turned to IBMers again to re-examine our guidelines and determine what needed to be modified. The effort has broadened the scope of the existing guidelines to include all forms of social computing.

3. 117 Social Media Policies – By Social Media Governance

Here is a list of and access to, social policies and protocols from organisations with documents rivalling “War and Peace” to light and brief.

4. Enterprise: List of 40 Social Media Staff Guidelines – by Laurel Papworth

She says “This list also includes policies called; Staff blogging policies, enterprise social network guidelines, Employee Blogging Policies, Staff engagement in online communities, and so on. I’ve done a few press (radio, print) interviews this week re: Telstra so I thought I should have another look at how Enterprise, Government, Corporates, Not for Profits  are handling the fact that their staff are members of social networks too”

5. Corporate Top 10 Social Media Guidelines – from Todd Defren’s Blog

He covers how corporate employees’ participation in Social Media can be dealt with and managed in a way that liberates them — without putting the company at risk.

So , what is revealing is that  a lot of common sense .. which is what a good policy is based upon, certainly seems to prevail through most of the social media policies, though the length of the policies can vary from the sublime to the adventurous.

What were your challenges in creating a Social Media Policy for your organisation?

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Companies are coming to terms with the growth and use of Social Media within and without their organisations and some of the companies that I deal with are grappling with its implications and how to use it in a postive way.

    “positive” is spelled wrong. You are missing the “i”.

  • Hi Jeff:

    I often read your blog posts because you offer great content. I “tweet” them out or share on LinkedIn to my followers.

    How about you add a “Share This” or “Add This” button on the beginning or end of your blog posts to make it easier for us to spread your great content?

    It is easy to add to WordPress and will make your information more viral than you can imagine.

    I added it to mine and it sends back analytics weekly so I know what readers are doing with my information. Only a suggestion.

    All the best to you, Julia

  • Myra Davis

    I read all your article and I want to share your good article and blog on twitters. It would be nice if you add on your website the ( retweet this) so everyone can read your great article.

  • This is quite a problem. I draw up guidelines for every organisation that we work with – which is part of a good integration.

    And this is the point – most people are providing tactics. Some provide strategy. Even fewer provide integration

  • Piyush Aggarwal

    very very fascinating indeed. I can’t imagine that social media policy is still an alien concept in India..

  • I think companies have to be careful here. Policy can be the death knell of any company because it gets in the way of humanity. In my opinion, using social media to connect with customers is all about humanity. You can’t be very human when there’s a policy between you and your customers.

    Ask anyone that works in customer service. The policy can be a real bummer. Ask the customers that get screwed over by policy instead of being treated like human being.

    Policy scares the crap out of me. If you can’t trust your employees to connect with customers the right way, you’ve hired the wrong employees to do it. You ask your employees to talk to customers to get sales right? Is there a policy to be followed to achieve sales? Or do you trust in your great salespeople to deliver incredible experiences without the need for a policy or road map for success.

    Or worse….a road map to avoid destruction. ::shivers::

  • Perfect timing.

    I just commented on the recent Twitter employee fiasco, which yet again highlights the need for companies to proactively come up with a social media policy.

    Would love your thoughts. Here’s the post I just published. http://mariosundar.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/company-social-media-policy/

  • Drafting a social media policy for the enterprise will become even more important than having a privacy policy for a firm’s e-commerce website. Brand risk is high with one.

  • I know that this is an older post, but I wanted to let you know about a social media resource.

    PolicyTool.net helps companies that are just starting to get involved in social media build a free social media policy. After answering 12 questions about your business and what you do or do not want employees to do online you are given a customized policy.

    The tool is 100% free; our only goal is to get people and companies conversing online.


  • Great post. This topic can’t be covered enough given the PR and customer service implications for organizations and companies. (We’ve been following it ourselves since last March. See our blog post, “Rules of Engagement, Social Media Style”: http://bit.ly/9dYYLf)

  • Hi Jeff

    It’s a really important risk management issue – where do employees go for reference if there is no social media policy in place?

    We have developed what we believe to be the first Australian sample social media policy – it applies all the relevant legislation as well as covering the various risk management areas.

    It can be downloaded from our website http://www.blandslaw.com.au/checklist_ssmp.html

    I hope your readers find this useful!

  • There are so many more elements than just a social media policy that are important to preparation prior to launching social media campaigns/programs.

    Is the frontline sales force and customer service team in order? What messaging is in place to keep positioning synchronized across the spectrum of customer touch points and spokespeople? Who has the role of social media, and are they trained and in touch with senior teams to extract the news from the organization? What about quality control?

    Just launching a Facebook page or Twitter account does not constitute good social media practice. There’s so much more.

    Put your house in order first before you launch; you’ll be that much more successful.

  • Jeff

    WOW a great post, and really timely for me. Just to say that the Link for Lauryl doesn’t appear to work but other than that a great treasure trove of material. As a lawyer in private practice who is insanely passionate about the power and influence of social media, I am quite sure that as the market matures there will come about or develop accepted standards or protocols, even if the platforms change. I very much hope that good old fashioned common sense still has a part to play and the policies do not make the engagement aspect so moribund as to dissuade people from making that leap which often leads to real *magic*.


  • Here are some examples of the guidelines and policies that are being written in relation to employee fan page use on Facebook in the Hospital industry. http://priorityresults.com/blog/examples-of-healthcare-social-media-guidelines-policies-rules-restrictions-and-formalities/

  • Hi Jeff, I am always amazed at businesses. They let their staff answer their phones, attend meetings representing the company, hand out business cards etc…but so often they then ban their members of staff from utilising Twitter etc..Staff should be encouraged to Tweet and companies should harness the value that this could give their business. But yes… they need guidance, support and training…


  • Jeff, this is a great subject to cover! As a small business owner, I have many hats to wear and sometimes the most obvious things get the least followup so this is very enlightening to me and I agree with the importance as we address the growth of social media.

  • Hi Jeff,

    One way to get buy-in to the development of these policies is to outline where and how you can save money and reduce costs. I wrote some articles for the Klariti Small Business site here http://klariti.com/Social-Media-Policy-Templates/social-media-policy-marketing-guidelines.shtml.

    I hope this isn’t too self-promotional as the tutorials may be of use to your colleagues.



  • Jakki

    Thanks Jeff, 
    We have trained hundreds of small business owners in rural and regional areas of Australia for the past few years and have guided each one through writing a social media policy. What we have discovered is that there is no such thing as common sense when it comes to social media. So I humbly disagree with the statement “that it is a lot common sense”, as what is common to you is not common to me. This is especially so when you blend generations in a workplace. Some communication techniques, styles and language differ greatly between generations and what is acceptable to some is considered offensive to others. So sitting down and having a team/staff meeting to formalise your social media policy is essential. It will allow everyone in the workplace to reach an understanding of what is sensible for the common voice of the business and is far more sensible than to suggest to use common sense.

  • Thanks Bruce for your comments and I will go and check those links out.