Social Media Guidelines, One Year Later

Posted on March 31, 2011 Under Social Media

by Flickr user kmiller799

A year ago, we pulled together a team at EDF to create our social media guidelines. The all-time most popular post on this blog tells how and why we did it, so I thought I’d share an update.

The best news is that it they seem to be working. They’re part of our new employee and intern orientation materials. Since we released them, we have not had any social media disasters big enough that I’ve heard about them!

Last week, spurred by conversations at the NTEN conference, we revisited the guidelines. While we did make a few small updates, I’m happy to report that overall they have aged well. And they should continue to — we made them not specific to particular tools, and grounded them in EDF’s general guidelines for conduct and communications.

In talking with people about the guidelines at the conference, Lauren Guite, who worked on the guidelines with me, heard lots of questions about mixing personal and professional presences. Here are her thoughts:

For a 30-something who has been involved in social media for over a decade, defining the very thin, fuzzy line between work and personal use on social networks is common sense. But for others, it’s a big enough concern to keep them off (and sometimes skeptical) of the social web.

You might also be dealing with the other extreme. Those who’ve grown up with social media and mobile phones are used to overexposure. For these people, the line might not exist.

When we wrote our guidelines, navigating these issues was a top concerns, so we tackled the personal-professional split head-on:

  • Our first section addresses the professional side — representing EDF in social media. Key points include what approvals are needed before posting (not many) and how to identify yourself as an EDF employee.
  • The second section addresses the personal side. It gives suggestions on how and how not to mingle your social and work worlds.
  • Throughout,  we point out that the split that’s clear in our staff’s minds is not clear in anyone else’s minds. We can be perceived as representing EDF even on our personal accounts, particularly if we talk about our work.

If you’re starting this journey yourself, in addition to looking at how we approached it, see Lauren’s tips for writing your own guidelines, and nice thoughts on getting over fear of Facebook on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications blog (via Duck Call).