Below are guidelines that can be repurposed and tweaked to fit your company’s guidelines.
These guidelines apply to (COMPANY) employees or contractors who create or contribute to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds or any other kind of social media. Whether you log in to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram, or comment on online media stories—these guidelines are for you.
Though all (COMPANY) employees are welcome to participate in social media, we expect everyone who participates in online commentary to understand and to follow these simple but important guidelines.
(NOTE: Mainstream media inquiries must be referred to the PR director.)
These rules might sound strict and contain a bit of legal-sounding jargon, but please keep in mind that our overall goal is simple: to participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation and follows the letter and spirit of the law.
1. Be transparent; state that you work at (COMPANY). Your honesty will be noted in the social media environment. If you are writing about (COMPANY) or a competitor, use your real name, identify that you work for (COMPANY) and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be the first to say so.
2. Never represent yourself or (COMPANY) in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true and not misleading; all claims must be substantiated.
3. Post meaningful, respectful comments—in other words, please, no spam and no remarks that are off topic or offensive.
4. Use common sense and common courtesy: For example, it’s best to ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to (COMPANY). Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate (COMPANY)’s privacy, confidentiality and legal guidelines for external commercial speech.
5. Stick to your area of expertise, and feel free to provide unique, individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at (COMPANY).
6. When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming antagonistic, do not get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly. Feel free to ask managers for advice and/or to disengage from the dialogue in a polite manner that reflects well on (COMPANY).
7. If you want to write about the competition, make sure you do so diplomatically, get the facts straight and have obtained the appropriate permissions.
8. Never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation or any parties (COMPANY) may be in litigation with.
9. Never participate in social media when the topic being discussed might be considered a crisis. Even anonymous comments may be traced back to your or (COMPANY)’s IP address. Refer all social media activity around crisis topics to your Legal Affairs team.
10. Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy and (COMPANY)’s confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Google has a long memory.
A version of this article first appeared on the Meltwater blog