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by • 16 Mar, 2010 • TechnologyComments (0)3675

Social media guidelines – why, what and how to use them?

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about social media guidelines for museums. There’s been a lot written about the use of social media guidelines, so I’ll limit this post to my experiences.

Why use social media guidelines?

More and more people join social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook or blog about their life or work. Not everybody is a digital native with perfect understanding of the subtleties of the web. I think guidelines are to guide these people towards a rewarding and safe use of social media.

Social media guidelines help people:

  • To benefit from the opportunities of social media.
  • To engage in a constructive way in online conversation, be it about a museum or their favourite pet.
  • To avoid doing things online they might regret, personally or professionally.
  • To find their way in your organisation when they discover conversations about your organisation on the web.
  • To feel comfortable while writing about their work online.

Social media guidelines are meant to enrich people’s online behaviour, not to limit it.

What should your social media guidelines look like?

The Online Database of Social Media Policies is a great resource to be inspired. However, I do believe most of the policies included are way too long and difficult to use. It works best to have short hands-on statements that focus on:

  • What kind of behaviour should be encouraged.
  • What kind of behaviour is definitely not allowed.
  • How to deal with conversations about your organisation online.

Examples could be:

  • Threat your colleagues and partners with respect.
  • Do not react emotionally on conversations about your organisation.
  • Inform communications about any online conversation of our organisation.

I do believe it’s best to reach a common understanding about the specific your social media guidelines within your organisation.

How to use social media guidelines?

Simple: as guiding principles. Show and explain them regularly to all employees and share best practices. I always emphasise why the guidelines help the employees and the organisation similarly.

Social media guidelines give your organisation a fixed set of rules about which to talk in case of emergencies, trouble or under stress. They delegate responsibilities and engage all employees in the efforts of the organisation to have a healthy and active online presence.

How do you use social media guidelines in your organisation? Have you ever had to use them? I’m curious to know about that. Thanks!

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