Perspectives on Connected Innovation and Collaboration

Don Smith’s Sabbatical Insights

Corporate Guidelines for Social Media

with 13 comments


I have been asked these questions a number of times during my sabbatical tenure.

What is an acceptable or unacceptable post?
What if someone says something bad?
More importantly, what if a customer says something bad about us?

I thought this would be a good time to share some of the insights I’ve gleaned from leading organizations engaged in social media, both within and outside the enterprise.

IBM’er Jenn Okimoto offers up important insights into these issues through her blog commentary.

  1. How detailed should social media guidelines be?
  2. When introducing social media into the workplace, how do we address HR concerns about reduced employee productivity?
  3. How do you guide employees or manage employees in navigating the gray with respect to posting content that is or is not appropriate in the work environment?
  4. What about content that falls squarely in the HR domain? What if employees use social media to publicize HR issues, or to gain “supporters” to their cause?
  5. Do we have IBM or client examples of stats, use cases or any other stories that address these concerns?

HP, published their blogging code of conduct publicly. It’s a simple 9 step code for HP employees to manage their content and tone.

  1. We will strive to have open and honest dialogues with our readers.
  2. We will correct inaccurate or misleading postings in a timely manner. We will not delete posts unless they violate our policies. Most changes will be made by adding to posts and we will mark any additions clearly.
  3. We will disclose conflicts of interest.
  4. Our Standards of Business Conduct will guide what we write about — so there are some topics we won’t comment on such as information about financials, HP intellectual property, trade secrets, management changes, lawsuits, shareholder issues, layoffs, and contractual agreements with alliance partners, customers, and suppliers.
  5. We will provide links to relevant material available on other blogs and Web sites. We will disclose any sources fully through credits, links and trackbacks unless the source has requested anonymity.
  6. We understand that respect goes both ways — we will use good judgment in our posts and respond to you in a respectful manner. In return, we ask the same of you.
  7. We trust you will be mindful of the information you share on our blogs — any personally identifiable information you share on a blog can be seen by anyone with access to the blog.
  8. We will respect intellectual property rights.
  9. We will use good judgment in protecting personal and corporate information and in respecting the privacy of individuals who use our blogs.

Personally, I find HP’s guidelines a good starting point for content management.  I constantly challenge myself to adhere to the following self-imposed guidelines:

  1. Follow HP blog guidelines
  2. Be open and honest
  3. Be mindful of my tone
  4. Ask interviewees for approval upon release of an interview or story
  5. Engage. Be open to feedback
  6. Use first person, conversational language
  7. Keep posts brief, factual, and full of data
  8. Respect all firewalls

This topic requires more thinking and collaboration. If you have questions or ideas, shoot me a comment.


Written by Donald Smith

February 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Benchmarks

Tagged with ,

13 Responses

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  1. Hi- I think this is a great post……I find all kinds of names for things these days, called netiquette, etc.

    Here are some interesting links on different things like this- goes beyond sort of the corporate general guidelines and provides specifics in “real world” terms/situations- have you heard of this person? Chris Brogan?

    By the way, I sent you the presentation on the Airforce/Use of Social Media- enjoy@=!

    Noelle Sorensen

    February 24, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    • Thanks Noelle. I’m very familiar with Brogan, he does great work in the space. I’ll check out that AF deck too!

      Donald Smith

      February 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm

  2. I have determined I can’t figure out twitter……, and in the interest of “netiquette” and social media use guidelines, I will provide my honest feedback on twitter to you privately. It just seems like texting gone wild……….with no real meat to it? What am I missing here?

    Noelle Sorensen

    February 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm

  3. okay, I get it, I am correct on Twitter then……it is like texting to the masses?? I tweet people?

    Noelle Sorensen

    February 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    • Twitter takes patience. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about how to make it effective from day 1. It takes time. I’ve noticed a handful of other ITQ’ers joining Twitter and I predict they wil have “Twangst” too.

      Donald Smith

      February 24, 2009 at 9:11 pm

  4. Please do. I have major Twangst.

    Noelle Sorensen

    February 25, 2009 at 5:59 pm

  5. Thanks for raising these points. Is the issue a “code of conduct” or a tutorial on the proper etiquette in user communities? My feeling has aloways been exisiting ethics and policies are often clear enough, but the unfaniliarity of the new online culture may cause some intinidation.

    Fred Hulting

    February 25, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    • Social Media can look like the wild west at times. I think folks are looking for a little policy and a whole lot of comfort in how to participate. I agree, policy is probably solid, but behaviors need to evolve.

      Donald Smith

      February 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm

  6. “evolution” = change, and personal change means moving out of your current comfort zone before you get comfortable again. I am interested to see how the folks who feel they have Facebook figured out will deal with social media envioronments inside the corporate walls.

    Fred Hulting

    February 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    • Agree. Assumed lead users may not be the actual lead users of corporate social environments. That’s why I feel it’s important to look deeply at site data to understand who is and isn’t comfortable with social tech. Then probe what makes people more comfortable.

      Donald Smith

      February 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm

  7. Interesting comment about lead users Don. I wonder if we are losing out by not having the lead users of something like facebook or twitter be the lead users of the corporate environment. Those who use these environments often (not always) have an instinct for what the social norms are.

    In my experience with adults using these types of systems, if things get out of line the other users are quick to correct the problem. So a general set of guidelines (ala HP) could be enough.

    Brad Wright

    March 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm

  8. Great work deserves worthy praise. I was so impressed with this effort that I have included a link to it at my new Web Site. I hope many more will benefit from your great advice on appropriate social media conduct. Thank you!


    Marc LeVine

    February 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

    • Thanks Marc! I appreciate your feedback.


      Donald Smith

      February 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm

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