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Social Media Guidelines… The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

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When it comes to rules, we are usually ready to give them a wide berth, however, the following guidelines are followed by some of the biggest companies in the world (IBM, Intel, BBC) and we would like to pick holes in them but they make good sense.

Be aware and participate:
To learn: believe in the importance of open exchange for learning.
To contribute: share the exciting things we’re learning and doing.

Enlightened self interest
When it comes to approaching new projects, initiatives or even connecting with people, look for ways to help them . If you help others, others will help you – enlightened self interest – to get what you want you must first help others get what they want.

Be prepared to inspire.
If it helps you, customers or partners to do their jobs or solve problems or make their workflows easier; if it helps to improve knowledge or skills; if it contributes directly or indirectly to the improvement of products, processes and policies; if it builds a sense of community; or if it helps to promote values, then it is adding value.

It’s your doorstep – don’t mess on it.
Many of these guidelines will seem obvious and this is probably the most obvious. If you make a mess on your doorstep you are going to have to walk in it. Avoid saying things publicly that should be said privately. If you have a grievance or complaint then contact the right manager directly. That is not to say do not have healthy debate regarding challenges or better ways of doing things. And if there is something that can be improved or a problem that is global then explore it – in the spirit that you would want to receive it.

Be nice.
Simple, isn’t it? But in these two words lies the key to good communication and one of the biggest rules of social media/community interaction – don’t pick fights and avoid argumentative language especially with people who just want the argument.

There are those you like and those that you can tolerate and there are a select few that probably irritate you. The question is: how are you going to react to certain irritations? Neither you nor the brand will benefit from public arguments.

Spirited and passionate discussions and debates are fine, be respectful of others and their opinions.

Will you refuse to correct your own mistake, even when it’s clear you’ve made one?

Respect your audience.
Don’t use ethnic slurs, discriminatory remarks, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any similar conduct that would not be appropriate or acceptable. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy. Do not insult others, including clients, customers and competitors.

Speak up.
Speak in first person and use your own voice. Remember it’s all about the conversation, so talk in the way you talk to people in a professional situation. Avoid overly composed and impersonal business language. Try to add some value when you post. Have something on your mind? Just say it.

Hit pause.
There is a fine line between speaking your mind and posting a rant in the spur of the moment. A good rule is to first pause and think about what you are about to post, especially when replying. If something makes you uncomfortable, even in the slightest, don’t rush to reply. It’s not how fast you reply, but how you reply. Another technique is to write the rant, get it out of your system but don’t post it.

Being part of the community comes with certain obligations and responsibilities. One of them is making sure that you do everything in your power to make the team proud. The content that’s associated with you should represent the values and standards of the brand.

Acknowledge others.
It shouldn’t be just about you, so try to be external often enough. Share what others have to say, link to articles and blogs that you read and stay engaged.

Add value.
Share tips, tricks, and insights. People’s time is precious and they need to get something out of the time they spend with you. Make listening to you worth their time.

Listen to what others have to say.
Appreciate suggestions and feedback, it will make what you do even better.

Use your best judgment.
When you are not sure whether to post something or not, simply use your best judgment and make sure it’s in everyone’s best interest.

Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.

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