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Let’s talk Social Media Policy

July 18, 2009

I am excited! Next week Connected is planned to kick off a ‘Social Media Policy & Guidelines’ week: webinars, guest blog posts, forum discussions, interviews and more, all focusing on what does social media policy and guidelines look like, what do they mean to your firm, your company and yourself, and what are best practices around online social and professional interaction.

There has been bustling conversation around the topic in past few months, and this to me is a fascinating subject. I have to admit, I had long conversations with my colleagues here at Martindale debating on what should SoMe guidelines and policies look like, and going deeper than that: why do we need them? “Why do we need to define the Do’s and Dont’s of Social Media?” I was asking. The main points that led me to questioning the need of setting any Guidelines and Policies in place are summed into two points:

1)      Following the Rheingold school of thought that speaks of free community shaping and growth, I asked “people are already feeling unsure of what to say, won’t it restrict and deter people from participation even further?” In some communities I have worked with in the past, I felt putting too many limitations around participation can make people feel even more hesitant and reluctant to participate. Many successful communities are built on allowing an open outlet for discussion, assuming codes of ethics and respect will always be respected.  “Won’t this make silence even bigger?” I wondered.

2)      Why do we need SoMe guidelines? Isn’t it a part of our life like every other media and communication channel? Aren’t same rules on ‘real life’ interaction applying the virtual world? Does one give guidelines to employees not to insult and yell at customers, not to publish an article on cover of magazine that could get one sacked, instructing them how to speak on the phone, with colleagues, management, etc? Social media is communication between people – only on a different channel. Why do we need a dedicated set of rules just for that?

Listening to the conversation happening online among lawyers and legal professionals – I soon realized Social Media policies and guidelines are greatly needed – if not essential – to make the conversation happen, especially for our community of users. They provide the grounds and framework within one needs can know what’s right and wrong, and feels comfortable to operate within.

Nature of online discussion calls for open and free discussion, and to put some structure behind this week, we’ve decided to focus each day on a different aspect of Social Media Policy & Guidelines:

Monday 20th July – Blogging

Tuesday 21st July Twitter and other Micro Blogging

Wednesday 22nd July – Social and Professional Networking

Thursday 23rd July – Formalizing Social Media Guidelines and Policies in your Firm/Company

Friday 24th July – Community and Contribution to collaborative content creation

The purpose is to come out with a rich summary of each section every day. Something we could all refer to – and use – while we continue to grow and develop it. A collaborative effort of a community to formalize Social Media Policy and Guidelines – I cannot wait to see where and how this develops.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2009 12:29 pm

    From my experience working in a big corporate environment – it is a big challenge of creating policy where people would actually refer back to and not dust it off at a shelf (or a server for that matter).

    Hence I still endorse the Wikipedia approach the most – develop 3 key policies (Neutral Point of view, Be Bold, Assume good faith) and people would moderate their behaviors around that – and that becomes the community norms.

    So even they are just policies, wouldn’t it be nice to have mottos/mantras like Wikpedia’s 3 core policies where people can remember and use to guide their behaviors?

  2. August 20, 2009 11:25 am

    For anyone developing or researching social media policies, this database contains links to more than 70, and you can filter by industry:


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