(Credit: Venn diagram based on DespairWear T-shirt)
Joshua-Michele Ross has outlined a simple guide for employers and employees on use of social media tools:
SOCIAL WEB GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR EMPLOYERS(edited)
1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Leaders should model the behavior they would like to see their employees take. A corollary to this rule: don't delegate social media to interns or people who can't possibly represent your culture and brand.
2. PERFORMANCE MATTERS, NOT PRODUCTIVITY. Build your policies around job performance, not fuzzy concerns about productivity. If your employees are using Facebook at work, they are also likely checking work email after dinner or at odd hours of the day. Don't ask them to give up the former if you expect them to continue the latter. If you have good performance measurements, playing the "lost productivity" card is a canard.
3. ENCOURAGE USE. Encourage employees to engage and interact with one another and with customers eg: Zappos
4. DON'T BLOCK SITE. Don't block your employees from any site that is already talking about your products or that you would like to see talking up your products (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on.). I have had many experiences sending instructional material to clients and having them tell me that they can't view the video or site at work. Enough said.
5. PROVIDE TRAINING. The social web is a cultural phenomenon; don't go there without a guide. Consider providing some form of education for your employees. You can use one of your own power-user employees or bring someone in - but get educated.
6. BEGIN FROM A POSITION OF TRUST. Most employees have common sense. Begin with a set of possibilities first (increasing awareness, improving customer service, gaining customer insight and so on) then draw up a list of worst-case scenarios (bad mouthing the company, inappropriate language, leaking IP, to name a few). Modify the guiding principles to help mitigate the risks you've identified.
Once you embrace having your employees participate in the social Web, give them a few basic guiding principles in how they conduct themselves. You can start with these:
SOCIAL WEB GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR EMPLOYEES
1. LISTEN BEFORE YOU TALK. Before entering any conversation, understand the context. Who are you speaking to? Is this a forum for "trolls and griefers?" Is there a good reason for you to join the conversation? If your answer is yes, then follow these rules of engagement:
2. SAY WHO YOU ARE. In responding to any work-related social media activities always disclose your work relationship.
3. SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY. You weren't hired to be an automaton. Be conversational while remaining professional. If your personal life is one that you (or your employer) don't want to mix up with your work, then consider establishing both private and public profiles, with appropriate sharing settings.
4. RESPOND TO IDEAS NOT TO PEOPLE. In the context of business, always argue over ideas not personalities. Don't question motives but stay focused on the merit of ideas.
5. KNOW YOUR FACTS AND CITE SOURCES. When making claims, always refer to your sources, using hyperlinks when possible. Always give proper attribution (by linkbacks, public mentions, re-tweets and so on).
6. STAY ON RECORD. Everything you say can (and likely will) be used in the court of public opinion -- forever. So assume you're "on the record." Never say anything you wouldn't say to someone's face and in the presence of others. Never use profanity or demeaning language.
7. IF YOU RESPOND TO A PROBLEM, YOU OWN IT. If you become the point of contact for a customer or employee complaint, stay with it until it is resolved.
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