How to write smart social media guidelines | Part 4

Here we are, at the final post in our Smart social media guidelines series. We’re outlining the essential topics that should be covered in an organization’s social media handbook. The following social media guidelines can easily be updated to reflect your organizations tone. Feel free to use these as a basis for outlining your staff’s guidelines.

Keep confidences.
Take care not to violate My Organization’s privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines. Do not discuss proprietary information and content. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to My Organization. Never discuss the confidential details of a customer/grantee or partner.

Strike balance.
Posting to social media can be time-consuming. Make sure that your online activities don’t interfere with your job or commitments to customers. Consider social media a tool, not a toy.

Create excitement.
My Organization, it’s customers/grantees and partners are making important contributions to the world, to the community, and to public dialogue on a broad range of issues. Share the exciting things we’re learning and doing.

Example: @Dhr_45
”Excited for the Boys & Girls Club gala. Looks like the mayor supports at-risk youth, too. Who knew he is such a good dancer!”

Be positive.
There is a fine line between healthy debate and volatile reaction. Encourage different points of view, but steer clear of sensitive territory like politics or religion. There is no need to respond to every criticism.

Be careful and considerate.
Once your commentary is out, you can’t take it back. And once an inflammatory discussion gets going, it’s hard to stop. Posts should portray My Organization, our customers/grantees, partners, and co-workers in a positive way.

Example: @GrantFunder
“Nonprofits need to improve their marketing goals in order to qualify for grants.”

This may be true, but is not positive, and does not show inclusivity and support. Here is a better example:

Good Example: @GrantFunder
“Nonprofits who struggle to define marketing goals could suffer, here is a link to some great resources, thanks to @NetworkForGood.”

Be conversational.
Adopt a warm, open, approachable tone, and project a positive image. Avoid overly pedantic or academic language. Make comments as if you are in a public, professional situation, because you are. Encourage conversation, feedback and response. Dialogue allows for a more meaningful conversation. Participation is the fuel of social media. Allow your content to be shared or syndicated.

Be engaged and informed.
Read the contributions of others. Know what the current conversations are and what people are saying in order to see if, and how, you may be able to contribute a new perspective. Offer your contribution with context when you can. Broaden the conversation by providing links to other blogs, media articles or whatever sources you think are necessary. And in every case, keep the language simple and flowing.

Example: @greengoes
“Hey @skinnyminny good point about software design. Here’s a great book I just read by @37signals Getting Real: #Startup

Be judicious.
Think twice. Then think again. Before posting a comment or voicing an opinion, ask yourself: Is it okay if a competitor sees this? A customer? A grantee? A partner? My boss? Is it okay if a board member sees this? Am I writing something that could be used against me? Remember that there could be negative consequences to content you post. If it’s unacceptable in the office then it’s unacceptable in social media. If what you’re about to post feels uncomfortable, try to figure out why. If you’re still unsure, it’s okay to stop pursuing this line of thought and move on. Ultimately, what you publish is your responsibility, so be sure and think through what you share online.

Now that you’ve got a new view on social media guidelines, think about how this would apply to your own organization. As with all things, taking the time to understand what you’re trying to do, and determining the best way to deliver this message will be key in rolling out new guidelines to your staff. Happy tweeting!

<< Read Part 3 – Adding value, and then some