Vignette (recently acquired by Open Text) has published a useful review of social media tools for organisations, which we’ve summarised in another post.

In the report, Vignette included their own employee guidelines for social media guidelines, which are clear, practical and commendable.

So if you’re thinking of developing your own employee guidelines for social media – you could do far worse than use Vignette’s guidelines as a base.  To help, we’ve anonymized the text, and posted here as a downloadable Word Document.

For those who are copy and paste fans, here it is.

Social Media Policy Template: Employee Guidelines

Our policy could be summarized in one sentence: “Be prudent and use common sense.” Remember everything you contribute online stays forever and that everything you do, often on a personal basis, reflects on [ORGANIZATION] as an organization. Failure to follow these policies may result in disciplinary action.

Ask yourself, “Would this public expression impair my ability to work with my colleagues on a friendly basis? Would it give a leg up to our competition? Would it make my colleagues, partners or customers uncomfortable? Could it damage the reputation of the organization?”

While we encourage open communication both internally and externally in all forms, we expect and insist that such communication does not substantively demean our environment. This means that constructive criticism — both privately and publicly — is welcome, but harsh or continuous disparagement is frowned upon.

Externally communicating [ORGANIZATION] Confidential information or other aspects of the organization information that is not intended for public consumption (partnership deals, product roadmaps, deal sizes, un-reference-able customers, earnings, etc…) is ALWAYS forbidden and may be grounds for immediate termination and legal action.

Specific Policies

Disclaimer Each blog shall contain the following disclaimer: “The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of [ORGANIZATION].”

Confidential Information You may not disclose any sensitive, proprietary, confidential, or financial information about the organization. This includes revenues, profits, forecasts, and other financial information, any confidential information related to specific products, product lines, customers, partners, etc. Posts should not speculate on [ORGANIZATION’S] future plans, results, or business prospects.

Respectful Tone You may not post any material that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to another person or any other person or entity. This includes, but is not limited to, comments regarding [ORGANIZATION], our employees, partners and competitors. You may not personally attack fellow employees, authors, customers, vendors, or shareholders.

Copyrights and Trademarks Respect copyright and fair use laws. When citing the work of another person or organization, professional bloggers, like journalists, will use proper attribution as well as a link (if applicable). Trademarks such as logos, slogans and various digital content (art, music, photos, etc.) may require permission from the copyright owner. It is your responsibility to seek that permission if you intend to use any such trademarked content.

Personal Social media is about individual participation. You are personally responsible for anything you publish online. Posts should express individual opinions, and not take positions for [ORGANIZATION]. You may post about the organization, products and services, employees, partners and industry trends but also about your personal opinions and even the occasional non-work related topics. (Remember to have the disclaimer in a prominent location).

Authenticity Posts should be factual. Posts should not make comparative statements concerning [ORGANIZATION’S] competitors without prior approval of legal and verification of accuracy from marketing. You should always disclose your employment or association with [ORGANIZATION].

Personality Keep in mind our voice and personality. Not cocky. Confident. Not pretentious. Authentic. Not ultra-trendy. Confidently cool. Not status quo. About creating something new. Not about us. All about You.

Ask your manager or legal if you have any questions about what is appropriate to include in your blog.