This Sample Social Media Policy Template was developed through the drafting of social media policies for employees at dozens of Fortune 500s, government agencies, military commands and nonprofits.
This social media policy for employees is designed to accelerate the development of a company social media policy for your organization.
For more social media policy examples, visit my free online social media governance training course.
Effective social media policy in the workplace begins with an understanding of the US rules and regulations that govern social media, which are summarized in this free Social Media in the Workplace compliance poster.
Social media policies are not one size fits all.
The right policy for your organization will (1) reinforce your organization’s existing corporate culture and (2) provide practical guidance to those governed by the social media policy.
Consult with a licensed attorney before you issue a company social media policy.
A. Social Media Policy Statement
Whether or not a employee chooses to create or participate in a blog, wiki, online social network or any other form of online publishing or discussion is his or her own decision. However, recognizes that emerging online collaboration platforms are fundamentally changing the way individuals and organizations communicate, and this policy is designed to offer practical guidance for responsible, constructive communications via social media channels for employees.
The same principles and guidelines that apply to the activities of employees in general, as found in the and ’s Professional Conduct Policy, apply to employee activities in social media channels and any other form of online publishing.
Our organization fully respects the legal rights of our employees in all countries in which we operate, including their rights under the National Labor Relations Board to engage in concerted and protected activities, and any part of this policy which interferes with or “chills” the legal rights of our employees will not be enforced. In general, what you do on your own time is your affair. However, activities in or outside of work that affect your job performance, the performance of others, or ‘s business interests are a proper focus for company policy.
B. Social Media Policy Definitions
1. Social Media Channels – Blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, social networks, social bookmarking services, user rating services and any other online collaboration, sharing or publishing platform, whether accessed through the web, a mobile device, text messaging, email or any other existing or emerging communications platform.
2. Social Media Account – A personalized presence inside a social networking channel, initiated at will by an individual. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking channels allow users to sign-up for their own social media account, which they can use to collaborate, interact and share content and status updates. When a user communicates through a social media account, their disclosures are attributed to their User Profile.
3. Social Media Disclosures – Blog posts, blog comments, status updates, text messages, posts via email, images, audio recordings, video recordings or any other information made available through a social media channel. Social media disclosures are the actual communications a user distributes through a social media channel, usually by means of their social media account.
4. External vs. Internal Social Media Channels – External social media channels are social media services that do not reside at a domain. Internal social media channels are located at a company- owned domain, require a password to access and are only visible to employees and other approved individuals.
5. User Profile – Social Media Account holders customize their User Profile within a Social Media Channel with specific information about themselves which can be made available others users.
6. Copyrights – Copyrights protect the right of an author to control the reproduction and use of any creative expression that has been fixed in tangible form, such as literary works, graphical works, photographic works, audiovisual works, electronic works and musical works. It is illegal to reproduce and use copyrighted material through social media channels without the permission of the copyright owner.
7. Hosted Content – Text, pictures, audio, video or other information in digital form that is uploaded and resides in the social media account of the author of a social media disclosure. If you download content off of the Internet, and then upload it to your social media account, you are hosting that content. This distinction is important because it is generally illegal to host copyrighted content publicly on the Internet without first obtaining the permission of the copyright owner.
8. Embed Codes – Unique codes that are provided to entice others to share online content without requiring the sharer to host that content. By means of an embed code, it is possible to display a YouTube user’s video in someone else’s social media account without requiring that person to host the source video file. This distinction is important because embed codes are often used by copyright owners to encourage others to share their content via social media channels.
9. Controversial Issues – Issues that form the basis of heated debate, often identified in political campaigns as wedge issues, since they provoke a strong emotional response. Examples include political views, health care reform, gun control and abortion. Religious beliefs may also be controversial, particularly to those intolerant of beliefs different from their own.
10. Official Content – Publicly available online content created and made public by our company, verified by virtue of the fact that it is accessible through our corporate website .
11. Inbound Links – An inbound link is a hyperlink that transits from one domain to another. A hyperlink that transits from an external domain to your own domain is referred to as inbound link. Inbound links are important because they play a role in how search engines rank pages and domains in search results.
12. Link Bartering Exchanges – Trading or purchasing inbound links from other domains exclusively for the purposes of lifting your domain in search engine page results.
13. Tweets and Retweets – A tweet is a 140 character social media disclosure distributed on the Twitter micro-blogging service. Retweets are tweets from one Twitter user that are redistributed by another Twitter user. Retweets are how information propagates on Twitter.
C. Social Media Policy Objectives
1. Establish practical, reasonable and enforceable guidelines by which our employees can conduct responsible, constructive social media engagement in both official and unofficial capacities.2. Promote a safe environment for employees to share subject matter expertise that is not proprietary and earn management’s recognition for the outstanding use of social media for business.
3. Prepare our company and employees to utilize social media channels to help each other and the communitiesserves, particularly in the event of a crisis, disaster or emergency.
4. Protect our company and employees from violating Municipal, State or Federal rules, regulations or laws through social media channels.
D. Social Media Policy Guiding Principles
1. Our organizations trusts and expects employees to exercise personal responsibility whenever they use social media, which includes not violating the trust of those with whom they are engaging. Employees should never use social media for covert advocacy, marketing or public relations. If and when employees use social media to communicate on behalf of , they should clearly identify themselves as employees.
2. Only those officially designated can use social media to speak on behalf of our company in an official capacity, though employees may use social media to speak for themselves individually or to exercise their legal rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
3. When you see misrepresentations made about by media, analyst, bloggers or other social media users, you may certainly use your blog, social networking account, or someone else’s to point that out. But you may only do so in an official capacity if you follow the terms of this policy.
4. Different social media channels have proper and improper business uses. For example, members of social networks are expected to read, and when appropriate respond, to questions asked of them from another member of their social network. It is important for employees to understand what is recommended, expected and required when they discuss or -related topics, whether at work or on their own time.
5. Employees are responsible for ensuring that all contractors, vendors and agencies that the company has a formal relationship with have received and agreed to abide by these guidelines in writing.
6. Employees are responsible for making sure that their online activities do not interfere with their ability to fulfill their job requirements or their commitments to their managers, co-workers or customers.
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You are free to use this social media policy template as a starting point for the development of your own corporate social media policy, as long as you attribute include the following language with anchor text where ever you may publish it and as long as you share your policy, be it an exact copy of this policy or a derivative work, with who ever you share it with as well.
Attribution Text with Anchor Text Hyperlinks: This social media policy was developed using a social media policy template by Eric Schwartzman, a digital strategist specializing in online marketing, online communications and social media governance.
Social Media Policy Template by Eric Schwartzman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.socialmediapolicytemplate.com.