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Social media policy offers dos and don'ts for employees

Tom Kaneshige | Nov. 6, 2013
Many companies have a love-hate relationship social media. They hate that employees may say something inappropriate or confidential, but they love the marketing impact of an army of workers hitting the social networks. We peek into Xerox's social media policy to see what the company tells its workers.

Employees need to write in the first person to give a sense of individual accountability. They shouldn't become embroiled in public disputes or use sarcasm, ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, "or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in Xerox's workplace," states the policy. "You should also show proper consideration for other's privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or very sensitive — such as politics and religion."

Xerox serves up helpful tips for employees to become better bloggers, social networkers and contributors on messaging boards. Writing tips read like an English 101 composition class. They range from having an objective before tapping the keyboard to using your natural voice to always telling the truth. Employees should act professionally when confronted with inaccurate information or negative comments. Also, don't write when you're unhappy, the policy advises.

Tips for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
Micro-blogging tips are a little more straightforward, such as understanding that tweets can become part of your permanent record and employees shouldn't comment on every single post lest followers see them as some sort of Big Brother.

Employees should give credit to people who retweet their messages, while avoiding too much marketing hype, which will turn off followers. "Don't make a professional account too personal, but don't lack personal touch either," the policy says.

On Facebook, employees should visit other Xerox pages regularly and engage with the content. "By commenting or clicking 'like' on postings, your friends see your activity in their newsfeeds and, as a result, may become a fan of other Xerox-related pages," the policy says.

When shooting video for YouTube, employees shouldn't post personal information about themselves or others. The videos should have the same tone of voice, look-and-feel as other Xerox videos. Titles should have searchable keywords, and videos need to be placed in similar categories (probably next to competitors' videos), so that videos can be found. Videos should have catchy descriptions, as well as a link back to the Xerox website.

Lastly, keep them short. "Be mindful of appropriate video length," the policy says. "Effective videos can be as short as 30 seconds. The longer a video, the tougher it is to keep viewers engaged."

What If Your Job Doesn't Involve Social Media?
Employees who work with social media as part of their jobs can learn the basic rules from policies such as Xerox's, but policies need to go further both in depth and breadth. Perhaps a social media policy needs to be created for all employees regardless of job function.

As the line between work life and social life, physical world and digital world increasingly blurs, employers and employees need to know what they can and cannot do with social media — and, of course, how to use social media effectively.


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