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Social media policies - One size does not fit all!

The following is an excerpt of a discussion that took place on the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) listserve:


For associations, there are at least three different "classes" of users for which specific social media policies should be developed in my opinion. For example:

1. Staff

      - Senior staff and managers that have a hire/fire authority

      - Staff that might use social media but it is not part of their normal or required activities

      - Staff that are required to use social media as a function of their job responsibilities

2. Volunteer leaders

      - Board and other volunteer leaders on how they are allowed/encouraged/prohibited to use social media in the name of the organization

3. Members/Users

      - Terms of use for ordinary users of your social media platforms which may include members and non-members, venders, key stakeholders etc.  

The policies employed are going to differ depending on the level of risk tolerance, the sensitivity of the underlying content or purpose of the association, and many other factors. For example, staff that have hire/fire authority have to be very careful how social media is used to recruit, manage or even terminate an employee. This is different for staff that do not have this level of responsibility and therefore, different policies are required.

I see groups getting into trouble especially when they do not have a clearly defined strategy regarding why and how they are using social media. Then, when they realize they need to have at least some form of policies regarding social media use, there is no plan against which to design the policies or policies are crafted ad hoc to cover everyone.

As social media becomes a true mainstream part of doing business for all organizations, I believe this area will mature to the point that all organizations have developed professional social media and communications plans that are supported by well thought out policies that apply to the different types of users outlined above. 

Kind regards,

Terrance Barkan CAE, Chief Strategist | Business Architect

www.globalstrat.org |http://www.linkedin.com/in/terrancebarkan | Tel:  +1 202 294 5563 | http://www.twitter.com/tbarkan | Google+: http://budurl.com/GPlusTB ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

-----Original Message-----

From: David Teisler

Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 10:24 AM

To: Communication Section

Subject: [comet] RE: Legal issues & social media policies 

Can't dispute Terrence's cautionary note.  But I will note that the case to which he refers discusses rules governing internal staff usage as opposed to rules governing usage of social media flowing under your name.  


David Teisler, CAE

Director of Communications

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

305 Seventh Avenue

New York, NY 10001-6008


-----Original Message-----

From:  Terrance Barkan CAE

Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 4:42 PM

To: Communication Section

Subject: [comet] Legal issues & social media policies - Cross Posted

Dear colleagues,

I wanted to bring an issue to your attention that might be of interest. Many organizations are in the process of crafting social media policies for their staff, members, volunteers or other stakeholders. Quite a few organizations are adopting a "copy and paste" approach using bits and pieces from the hundreds of examples that exist online.

Please be aware that unless you obtain qualified legal advice from an attorney that has experience in this area, you may actually be creating more of a legal risk for your organization as opposed to reducing it.

An article about just this issue is instructive:

http://budurl.com/SociaLexNews1  Dover, Maryland has recently rejected a social media policy that was intended to protect the city's reputation but endangered the city's position vis a vis its employees. There are many parallels that can be drawn to associations and association policies that are being crafted to protect the association's brand.

I am not an attorney and I personally do not offer legal advice on this topic but I am a strong advocate for organizations to have a clear picture of how and why you are using social media, and to then have social media policies that support your social media strategy.

Hope this is of interest and help to those organizations that are in the process of crafting your social media strategy and policies. 

Kind regards,

Terrance Barkan CAE, Chief Strategist | Business Architect

www.socialstrat.org |http://www.linkedin.com/in/terrancebarkan | Tel:  +1

202 294 5563 | http://www.twitter.com/tbarkan | Google+:



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