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Employee use of social media and the pros and cons of a social media policy

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As the #smmeasure Twitter chat continues to grow as a community, I am grateful for those social media enthusiasts who participate and help spread the word. 

Last week’s #smmeasure chat was on identifying and quantifying your influencers online, a highly debatable measurement topic.  However, for this week we decided to focus our chat on employee use of social media.   Thanks to @sabrina_scott for asking a question that so many people wanted to know about.

#smmeasure chat #16 recap

Creating a cultural environment that embraces social media is the initial step in incorporating social media into a company’s strategy.  The #smmeasure community chimed in about best practices of creating a social media policy.  If you have any questions, tweet @smmeasure without the #smmeasure hashtag.  Take a look at the full #smmeasure chat transcript. Here are a few highlights:

Q1: What are the pros and cons of creating a social media policy?


  • @brightmatrix:  “Pros of a social media policy: give employees clear guidance on how they should represent themselves as part of the company”
  • @imamike:  “SM policy essential to preventing future liabilities and ensuring employees know exactly what is expected of them”
  • @sabrina_scott:  “Pro: What employees are allowed to say about the company is clearly defined.”
  • @djwald:  “Pros – Co.’s have solid backing for reprimand.”
  • @agardina:  “A SM policy is only as effective as how up to date it’s kept. Imagine what a policy from ’06 might look like.”
  • @clarqui:  “We’re beyond ‘banning’ SM sites – too many smart phones out there. Need to decide how to manage their use” “problem with big co’s is they write policy and then fail to update.”
  • @clouts:  “Best policies are the ones that encourage use of social media and guide them to follow same “culture” and mission”


  • @ellerich:  “policy con – often limits employees’ freedom of expression, can be intimidating and employees may opt to avoid #SM altogether”
  • @jgombita: “How on earth could there be a ‘con’ to creating a SM policy?” “perhaps it’s not the right ‘cultural fit’ all around….”
  • @djwald:  “Cons – Limiting the freedom, and trust of employees.”

Q2:  What are some guidelines you have included (or would include) into a social media policy? Via @sabrina_scott

  • @Wedding_crasher:  “Disclosure guidelines, Crisis Management guidelines, Rules of Engagement”
  • @brightmatrix:  “Ideal SM policy would include best practices for major channels, common sense advice”  “At base, an SM policy should already tie into existing code of conduct policies, which has a clear tie-in to HR.”
  • @sabrina_scott:  “I think that photo guidelines are also applicable ie: ensuring if the company’s logo is in a picture the photo is in good taste.”
  • @jgombita:  “Specify whether social media guidelines apply to work platforms & equipment or also extend to personal blogs, etc”
  • @amfunderburk1:  “Include how you want your employees to treat their personal social media accounts.”
  • @JanetRobbins:  “SM policy–guidance on how to handle negative comments about business”
  • @marketwire:  “guidelines that are controversial like religion, politics, etc.”
  • @PRWestcoast:  “Include clear SM policy guidelines on protection of privacy and freedom of information to protect clients, patients, etc”

Q3:  Should a hierarchy of social media positions (CSO, VP) exist or is this limiting employees to become less “social”?

  • @sabrina_scott:  “Titles may be a bit overboard. It may be more helpful to identify certain people as resources that can answer q’s or even teach.”
  • @accuconference:  “I don’t think titles really make a difference in SM. It’s about trust, knowledge, and training.”
  • @marketwire:  “I am seeing more and more companies creating social media positions as high as the ‘VP’ level.”  “I also see more companies putting sm roles into “audience engagement” and “community management” roles.”
  • @paulgailey:  “corp. social media is much more Venn diagramy than tree hierarchical”
  • @amfunderburk1:  “I think it really depends on the size of the company. If it is a smaller company one SM position would work.”

Q4:  How do employees using social media help a company’s external outreach efforts?

  • @djwald:  “This is where co.’s have HUGE potential to leverage their employees SM influence. Give em a voice and see what happens”  “‘Not letting your employees talk about your co. on SM is insanity’ – Gary Vaynerchuck”
  • @sabrina_scott:  “I think they need the right training to be helpful in certain industries/types of business, otherwise they may be a liability.”  “If the company is looking for name recognition/brand awareness though, the more employees the merrier in online discussions…”
  • @clarqui:  “helps to personalize a brand and causes discussion of it”
  • @amfunderburk1:  “If employees are talking about the company on their personal accounts it shows they love what they do! Looks great for comp”
  • @Clouts:  “Companies with a solid culture show it this way and connect regional successes” 

Helpful Links:

Check back here every Friday for chat recaps and transcripts.  Join the Marketwire Facebook page to get #smmeasure weekly topics.  If you have any questions for the community, tweet @smmeasure or @marketwire or send me an email nshin[at]  Keep track of all the #smmeasure chat recaps.

Join the #smmeasure LinkedIn Group to connect with others interested in social media and measurement.  See you next week at 9:00 am PST, 11:00 am CST, 12:00 pm EST, 5:00 pm if you’re in London, and 3:00 am Friday if you’re in Melbourne.

See you next Thursday.

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