News & Views

Social Media Policy

01.14.09 • Sonia Greteman

We are a plugged-in people, constantly bombarded by friend requests, photo tags, status updates and links to videos of funny babies and pets. At Greteman Group, we not only embrace the media and technology that make these bombardments possible, we harness them for our clients. We also welcome the power of individuals to leverage and enhance their personal brands through these tools.

At the same time, we recognize the challenges of the increasing competition for our time and attention created by this barrage of messages. To address these challenges, we have created the following guidelines for team members’ use of social media tools both in and out of the office.

We’re adding the following policy to our official employee manual. We thought that many of you might be having similar discussions at your companies, and that posting our policy might help guide your conversations.

Overall Philosophy
While you are on company time, please refrain from online activities that don’t bring value to Greteman Group. Think of your personal time online in the same way you think of personal phone calls or emails.

Microsoft has a bone-simple blogging policy. Be smart. We ask the same of you. Please be smart in your online activities. They reflect on both you and the agency. The ability to publish things that may never go away and can be forwarded endlessly, well, it gives us pause and we hope it does you, too. We view personal websites and blogs as good things. We want you to avail yourselves of these media. We respect your online activity as a medium of self-expression. Please note, though, that confidentiality agreements prevent disclosure of all client and Greteman Group business. Readers may view you as a de facto spokesperson for our company.

While you are employed with Greteman Group, please observe the following blogging guidelines:

  1. Do not work on your personal blog during business hours. If you just have to scratch the itch to blog, write a post for the Greteman Group blog.
  2.  When posting to your personal blog, please make it clear to your readers that the views you express are yours alone and that they do not necessarily reflect the agency’s views. To help reduce the potential for confusion, we would appreciate it if you put the following notice – or something similar – in a reasonably prominent place on your site: The views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.
  3. Respect the company’s confidentiality and proprietary information.
  4. Ask your direct supervisor if you have any questions about what is appropriate to include in your blog.
  5.  Be respectful to the company, fellow team members, clients and competitors.
  6.  Understand and comply when the company asks that topics not be discussed for confidentiality or legal reasons.

Online Social Networking
Online social networks include sites like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn (and many, many more).

There have been a number of questions regarding proper etiquette on these sites. These are our recommendations:

  • Use Facebook and Google+ (and similar sites) as your personal network. If you don’t want to friend coworkers, vendors or clients, don’t feel pressured to.
  • Use LinkedIn as your professional network for adding work-related colleagues.
  • If you are uncomfortable with adding a contact, don’t add him or her. These might include former employees, competitors or that random, slightly creepy guy you met at an organization’s mixer.

The following are guidelines we request you abide by while you are employed with Greteman Group:

  1. Do not access your personal social network on company time.
  2. Block your LinkedIn contacts’ contact information from your other contacts. Confused? Please see a member of the iTeam for clarification and instructions.
  3. Be smart about what you publish. Once you put something out there, it can be difficult to retract. Make sure your online brand doesn’t diminish or tarnish your offline brand.
  4. Be respectful to the company, fellow team members, clients and competitors.

Twitter has become so prevalent that it has earned its own section in our guidelines. The biggest concern when it comes to Twitter is not the time it takes to tweet, but the time and focus you spend keeping up with the numerous conversations. Please observe the following Twitter guidelines:

  1. Do not let your Twitter posting interfere with your billable and company projects.
  2. Moderate the use of your Twitter monitoring tools (HootSuite, Twitterific, TweetDeck, etc.) during working hours.
  3. Unless given special permission by a supervisor, part-time employees should have no reason to use Twitter while at work. Therefore, they are not allowed to use Twitter – either posting or listening – during their time at work.
  4. When tweeting, please make it clear to your followers that the views you express are yours alone and that they do not necessarily reflect the agency’s views. To help reduce the potential for confusion, we would appreciate it if you put the following notice – or something similar – in a reasonably prominent place on your profile: The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

Social Video
Watching a quick video on YouTube can spark creativity and lighten a stressful day. We don’t want to ban YouTube, we just ask that you moderate the time you spend watching videos. And, obviously, don’t let them interfere with your billable time.

Blog Reading
Just like videos, blogs are invaluable sources of inspiration and information. Please refrain from reading personal or non-industry blogs during company time. And, again, don’t let blog reading interfere with billable time.

Online Shopping
Unless it is work-related, please refrain from online shopping during company time.

Online References
Any requests for online references or recommendations on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or personal blogs, should be forwarded to the human resource department. Team members are not authorized to speak for the company with regards to job performance of current or former team members.

eMail Forwards
Jokes, urban legends and get-rich email forwards are the oldest form of Internet-based social media. When it comes to company email, we ask that you think twice before hitting send and be judicious with the number of items you forward. And, if you’re unsure whether a certain Nigerian prince really is being truthful about a promised fortune, a quick stop Snopes.com by might be in order. If you have any questions about these guidelines or any matter related to your site that these guidelines do not address, please contact a member of the iTeam.

Location Based Social Networking
Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly where our competitors were, all the time? Just the same, we don’t want to clue in our competition on which potential (and current) clients we’re visiting and when. Please refrain from checking in with Foursquare, Facebook and the like at our clients’ locations during business activity.

If your company has developed a social media policy, share it in the comments. If you haven’t, share how you’re handling social media usage. We can all learn from each other.

*This post was updated on August 28, 2012. Original post January 2009.


How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Company - Technocratiq Solutions
[…] Greteman Group Social Media Policy: a good balance between etiquette expectations and employee empowerment —peppered with humor. […]

Valerie Purchase
We ask students on our Postgraduate Digital Media Communication course to consider their organisations 'social readiness' and they look at a number of examples of social media policies. Your policy is a popular choice for discussion because of the clear guidelines and positive tone. Thanks for sharing

James Sandberg
Social media policies are so important for large companies and this article really is helpful in covering all of the areas needed to put one together. thanks a lot :)

Social media policy for Greteman Group « M.A.D (Making A Difference)
[...] GretemanGroup social media policy [...]

Deanna Harms
Our social media policy continues to garner heavy traffic. Would love to hear how it is being used, or if you have modified it in a way that has proven to be beneficial.

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Thanks for your input. A real human moderates comments (ASAP), so yours may not appear immediately. Due to all the spam, it’s just how we do it. We don’t like it either.