5 key points for a social media policy

David Olsen has just reported on a recent Australian survey finding that 1 in 5 people would refuse a job that bans Facebook. Workers who often work at home after hours want in return to access social media (SM) at work. If used responsibly SM shouldn’t be a major issue, and, as Dane Larson writes in a blog regarding the benefits of SM in the workplace, it encourages teambuilding, communication and collaboration, but it’s where a SM policy is now a real must for organisations.

I believe the following points are key in developing a policy regarding employees use of Web 2.0 tools and spaces for work and personal use whilst at work:

1.  Set expectations for behaviour – Boundaries should be set on what employees can and can’t do, and how they should behave, whether using SM for work or personal use in the workplace (Fleet, 2009); Hartshom, 2010), and the consequences of violating the policy. They need to be responsible for what they write (Lauby, 2009a), and respect others, including writing about colleagues only with their permission (Anderson, 2009). Copyright must be respected, including links to sources cited in a blog (Kroski, 2009).

2. Complying with organisation’s existing policies – This includes non-disclosure by employees of an organisation’s confidential information, in addition to anti-harassment policies, company ethics etc (Fleet, 2009; Lauby, 2009b, regardless of what type of SM is being used, and when and where it is being used (Flynn, 2009), as well as prohibiting the downloading of any illegal software or materials whilst in the workplace or using an organisation’s computer or network (Lotito, 2010).

3. Protect personal information – employees should be reminded to protect their privacy (Defren, 2009) and not disclose any information that might jeopardise their safety, or be used against them in any way.

4. Be transparent – employees should write under their own name and reveal their affiliation with their employer if their post mentions the organisation, or matters relating to it (Defren, 2009). A disclaimer should be added stating that the views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily those of the organisation (Kroski, 2009).

5. Keep it short and simple – the policy needs to be easily understood by all employees (Dand, 2009), and as web 2.0 technology changes rapidly, be easy to update on a regular basis.


Flynn, N. (2009). The e-policy handbook (2nd ed.). New York: American Management Association.

Useful resources

Kodak’s social media tips: Useful document for organisations outlining the major types of social media, with social media tips from Kodak’s ‘chief blogger’ and the Kodak social media policy. Retrieved from http://www.kodak.com/US/images/en/corp/aboutKodak/onlineToday/Social_Media_9_8.pdf

IBM social computing guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html


About Sue

Sue Page is in the process of completing a Masters in Library & Information Management from Charles Sturt University in Australia.
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One Response to 5 key points for a social media policy

  1. Pingback: It may be the end, but it’s really just the beginning – Evaluative report, part a « Almost a Librarian…

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