Social Media Guideline Template

Below is a template used for Social Media Guidelines meant for staff and volunteers. It covers the basic technique for writing, important points to think about while participating in an online conversation, and guidance on what should or shouldn't be said. The last page consists of a Quick Review Sheet that can be torn off and utilized on a daily basis. The full word document is available for download as well.

Social networking through the use of Internet-based and other electronic social media tools is integrated into everyday life.  Use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, wikis and other online social media vehicles are commonplace. This document is intended to provide XXXX staff and volunteers posting on XXXX behalf (herein referred to as volunteers), with guidelines to eliminate any confusion concerning the use of social media.

Why a Guideline?

The lines between work and personal life can become blurred. In general, what you do on your own time is a personal decision. However, activities in or outside of work that affect your job performance, the performance of others, or XXXX business interests are a proper focus for this XXXX guideline.

Matter of Trust

Being able to share your and XXXX’s activities without prior management approval means that management trusts you to understand that by doing so you are accepting a higher level of risk for greater rewards. Each XXXX staff member and volunteer is personally responsible for the content he or she publishes on any form of social media. Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks.

Trust is an essential ingredient in the constructive culture we are striving to achieve at XXXX. We can’t be there to guide every interaction, so we expect you to follow these guidelines and advisements to help you better balance the risk vs. reward ratio.

What’s the Point?

The goal is to ensure the XXXX voice is part of the larger conversation relating to our cause and work. But, don’t feel compelled to jump in before you understand the conversation and who is saying what. First, explore the topic being discussed, read about it and contribute only when you find something that adds to or advances the discussion. Include an especially relevant link, since doing so further connects XXXX to the wider Web and can result in greater connectivity for XXXX.

Share Information Carefully

Keep in mind that posts are visible by all with online access. It may be fine to share your work at XXXX as part of your participation in the online community, etc., but you DO NOT have permission to reveal any information that compromises XXXX policy or public positions.  By that we mean don’t share anything that is proprietary and/or confidential to the XXXX. For example, it is not okay to share any content that required a non-disclosure agreement or is part of a confidential management or Board discussion.

Respecting differences, appreciating the diversity of opinions, and speaking or conducting yourself in a professional manner is expected at all times. If you aren’t completely confident about what you intend to share, you should seek management input before you post.

Understand That You Represent XXXX

As in all interactions whether in the built or virtual environment, you are a representative of XXXX. As a representative of XXXX, your positions must be in-line with XXXX policies and positions.


All contact with external media (print, TV etc) must follow the established channels of communication (XXXX contracts with an external consultant to represent XXXX in the media).  All media inquiries should be sent directly to the President/CEO.

Creative Writing Is Encouraged

Interesting writing requires an investment of time, even when you know a lot about the subject. Chances are your deep knowledge will make your comments more interesting to read, and, by Web standards, your writings could become popular, if only to others who share your particular interest.

But, unless you limit your postings to fact-only reports, you may choose to reveal more of your personality as a way to build reader interest. Almost everyone posting to online communities writes about themselves, their interests, experiences, and social interactions. People like to know these additional details about you as a way to develop a greater appreciation of your point of view. But, the Web is a public venue and you should be careful not to embarrass yourself, XXXX, and other members of the online community.

Good Writing Basics

The value of your great idea suffers to the extent that you allow misspelled words and bad grammar. And, if you cannot be succinct, at least be complete and accurate. If you know these are areas where you could improve, seek out advice from those for whom these are strengths. It takes time to write in a concise manner, but it is worth the effort to improve upon your first draft.

Stick to What You Know

Another basic tenant of writing is to write what you know. That way, you increase the likelihood that you will be interesting, but, as important, you minimize the chances for damaging your credibility. You may know a lot about your function or special project, but, if you criticize some other XXXX function or decision without knowing all of the relevant background, there’s a good chance that you will be “corrected” by the actual expert.

Be Sensitive to Privacy Issues

There are stringent requirements by XXXX that you comply with privacy laws. Disclosure of any private or identifying information cannot be tolerated for any reason.

XXXX complies with all laws, including federal and state confidentiality laws that apply to XXXX operations and activities. Compliance with the letter and spirit of the confidentiality laws is an important goal of XXXX and is essential to maintaining the organization’s reputation for the highest standards of ethical conduct. Since you are involved in XXXX’s operations and activities, you are responsible for understanding and observing these policies.

Quick-Review Sheet for XXXX Social Media Use

·         Be conversational, participate on social networks in a meaningful way, and refrain from saying anything that might hurt your employer’s, customers’ and in some cases even competitors’ reputation.

·         Refrain from posting items that could reflect negatively on the company’s reputation including comments or other posts about drug or alcohol abuse, profanity, off-color or sexual humor, and other inappropriate conduct.

o    Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not otherwise be acceptable in XXXX’s workplace.

·         Use common sense.

·         Show proper respect for people’s privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory, like politics and religion.  

·         Don’t disclose XXXX’s (or anyone else’s) confidential or other proprietary information.  Ask permission to publish or report on meetings or conversations that are meant to be internal to XXXX.

o    Everything that you post online is visible by all. You do not have permission to share any information that compromises our policy, management positions and client information.

·         If you publish content to any website outside of XXXX and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with XXXX, use a disclaimer such as this: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent XXXX's positions, strategies, or opinions.”  If what you are publishing is, in fact, XXXX official business, be sure that that you are authorized to make such statements on behalf of the organization.  If there is any doubt, check with your supervisor.

·         If you (employee or volunteer) list their place of employment on your personal site the company reserves the right to request removal or modifications of any media or content the reflects poorly on the company

·         Respect the law, including those laws governing defamation, discrimination, harassment, and copyright and fair use.

·         If you see something that questions your company’s credibility or any customer complaints, alert your PR/social media/marketing team that’s responsible for responding back. DO NOT feel that you need to respond to negative comments online.

·         Ensure that your social networking conduct is consistent with the all policies contained in XXXX’s Employee Handbook, including Patient Confidentiality Compliance, Sexual Harassment, Confidentiality and Disclosure, and Use of XXXX Equipment and Services.

  • Make sure that your online activities do not interfere with your job performance.
  • Use spell check often
  • Volunteers posting on behalf of XXXX must do so with written permission from an XXXX staff person who will oversee the posting and be responsible for the content
Guide for Staff and Volunteer Use of Social Media.doc35.5 KB

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