Examples of 5 social media policies from the ‘Big Guys’

Previously I posted about the importance of having a social media policy.  I didn’t give you any advice on where to start, just warned you of the pitfalls.  One of the best ways to get started on your own policy is to look into the policies of some of the largest and most well-known brands.  Via Twitter I learned about this great article from Likeable Media on the social media policies of Best Buy, Coca-Cola, Intel, IBM and Kodak.

You see that each reflects its own traditions and cultures.  Are you surprised that IBM’s is traditional and formal and very business-like, while Best Buy keeps it friendly, simple and informal?  Each reflect their own understanding of their employees and how it communicates its brand internally so that their employees can reflect that to the public.

Think of how your employees are already using social media, even if your only employee is yourself.  Work from your understanding of your company and move that message outward.  Social media is about sharing your vision about your goals to the world at large and connecting with the visions of those you meet in the social media space

Have a social media policy in place before your employees start sharing

Right now your small business may be so small that you are the only employee.  You have the good sense to use your company’s name responsibly and protect its image.  You would not disparage your business online or make off-color jokes.  But what about when you start to grow?

The new part-timer you hire to do some bookkeeping, does she know that her Facebook posts might show up in a search of your business name if she mentions it?  Did your teenage intern’s Twitter followers get updated about private customer information?

Idle gossip or phone conversations never were searchable by your potential customers and competitors, but with modern search engines everything posted on the Internet can pop-up in search results.  The consequence could be embarassing at the least or in a worse-case scenario lead to legal liability for defamation.

Take the time to formulate your business’ social media policy.  Let your employees know your expectations and the consequences for violating that policy.  What may have seemed like idle chatter of a harmless nature shouldn’t come as a surprise with real-world negative results.