Twitter Tips: How to Write a Twitter Policy for Your Employees

Twitter makes it easier than ever to share information and interact with your customers and peers. But giving your employees some rules for the road will make it easier for them to tweet freely and without career fear, while protecting your company .

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4. Work Together on Guidelines

Since social media tends to be a bottom-up phenomenon, it doesn't make sense to construct guidelines that don't solicit employee input, says Dangson. On the employer side, there must be the realization that companies will be sharing more information with the public as a result of these tools. On the employee side, people must recognize that some information will always remain off-limits for sharing, and that in many ways, they are speaking for the company on a variety of matters.

5. Cases in Point: Social Media Guidelines from IBM, Intel

As you might guess, technology companies have led the way in crafting social media policies. IBM was one of the earliest companies to adopt a set of guidelines around social media. Big Blue used a wiki to compile input from their employees to construct its policy. IBM's social media guidelines, posted online, have a few elements that might help companies looking to craft their own Twitter policies:

  • 1. Respect copyright and financial disclosure as laid out in the code of conduct.
  • 2. Speak in the first person to help identify that you speak for yourself, and not the company.
  • 3. Respect your audience by writing in thoughtful language (avoiding insults, slurs or obscenity).
  • 4. Don't pick fights, and be the first to admit and correct a mistake.

Intel also has some interesting thoughts in its social media policy. Some of these include:

  • 1. Write what you know by sticking to your expertise.
  • 2. You're responsible for everything you write.
  • 3. If it gives you pause, pause. (Especially important on an instant publishing medium like Twitter)

Concluding Advice

Your company's Twitter policy will vary depending on your industry, taking into account, for instance, how secretive your corporate culture is and the regulations you must follow. Companies should work with their employees to figure out what's fair and, more importantly, realistic. When employees make Twitter mistakes (and they will), employers should try to handle the matter constructively by talking about what a more appropriate tweet would have been, and why it bent the policy in place.

While it's well and good to say employees are "responsible" for everything they tweet, your people should feel that the company stands behind them when they contribute intelligent and thoughtful material.

C.G. Lynch covers consumer web and social technologies for CIO.com. He writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook and Google. You can follow him on Twitter: @cglynch.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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