Huge List of Social Media Policies

I’ve been working on a set of social media guidelines for my library. It’s still in rough draft form, and has a long way to go (i.e., a bunch of meetings) before the library decides to use it.

Social media policies and guidelines can be really hard to write. Thankfully, Social Media Governance can help! This site has links to hundreds of social media policies from corporate, government, and non-profit organizations and businesses.

Here are some guidelines I found while poking through some of the links:

  • Please respect copyright. If it is not yours, don’t use it. It is very simple. It is that person’s choice to share his or her material with the world, not yours. Before posting someone else’s work, please check with the owner first. (From Adidas).
  • Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks. The lines between public and private, and personal and professional are blurred in online social networks. If you identify yourself as an Apple employee or are known to be one, you are now connected to your co-workers, Leaders and even Apple’s customers. You should ensure that content associated with you is consistent with Apple policies. (Apple Retail employees).
  • All AP journalists are encouraged to have accounts on social networks. They have become an essential tool for AP reporters to gather news and share links to our published work. We recommend having one account per network that you use both personally and professionally. (from the Associated Press).
  • AP staffers must be aware that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. AP employees must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum and must not take part in organized action in support of causes or movements (also from the AP).
  • Guidelines for functioning in an electronic world are the same as the values, ethics and confidentiality policies employees are expected to live every day, whether you’re Tweeting, talking with customers or chatting over the neighbor’s fence. Remember, your responsibility to Best Buy doesn’t end when you are off the clock. For that reason, this policy applies to both company sponsored social media and personal use as it relates to Best Buy (from Best Buy).
  • Know that the Internet is permanent. Once information is published online, it is essentially part of a permanent record, even if you “remove/delete” it later or attempt to make it anonymous. If your complete thought, along with its context, cannot be squeezed into a character‐restricted space (such as Twitter), provide a link to an online space where the message can be expressed completely and accurately (from Coca-Cola).

Interesting stuff, huh? Remember – if you are thinking about creating some social media guidelines for your organization, you don’t have to start from scratch. Find some good examples, pull some points off those, and then tweak and expand as needed.

The Internet is our friend!

Image from Beth Kanter

Please Ask for Assistance

don't touchI took this photo at a guitar store in a small town in Wisconsin. I get what they’re doing – lots of guitar/music stores do the very same thing. They really don’t mind you touching the guitar – as long as a staff member is standing beside you. Why?

Well … you might break the thing … you might scratch the back of the guitar … your playing style might be too rough for their floor model … it might be out of tune, and the floor rep could help you … the sales dude might need to “persuade” you that it sounds good …

And of course, the floor rep would need to remove that sign for you before you tested it out.

What’s going on here? This music store (like many others) is not focusing on customers. They are focusing on their stuff – their guitars, their drums, their merchandise. They want to make sure that merchandise isn’t damaged … maybe something bad happened once, and someone tripped while holding a guitar, and cracked it. But that’s certainly NOT the majority, is it? For the most part, they are actually damaging their business. Who wants to ask for assistance?

Guitar Center gets this. That has to be the noisiest music store I’ve ever visited. Why? Because they let you touch the merchandise. Grab a guitar off the wall, plug it into the largest amp you can find, and wail away. Go to the drum room, find some sticks, and try out that new Disturbed (yes, this is a rock bad) lick you just learned.

In the process, you get to test out the merchandise. And Guitar Center does a good job of pushing that merchandise (judging by the many large stores they have all over the US). It’s working for them.

Which leads me to my point – do we do this in libraries? Do we have processes in place that force customers to “ask for assistance” before they “test out the merchandise?” Some possibilities:

  • study rooms that you have to ask to use (or bathrooms, for that matter)
  • computers that are “locked down” so even simple things like USB drives don’t work on them
  • The reference section that can’t be checked out (even though those books aren’t used much)
  • A subscription service, like Overdrive, that’s there … but difficult enough to use that it turns customers away.
  • Or even good, useful services in your library that simply aren’t advertised (my library’s guilty of that – and we’re fixing it)?

How to fix this? Maybe start here – figure out the original reasoning behind the rule/policy. If it’s one of those “5 people did it so we’re punishing/protecting 100″ types of rules … simply stop it. Right now. You should have other policies in place to fix those things (like a behavior policy, a check out policy, a computer use policy, etc).

My guess is that if you get rid of those types of policies and procedures, you will be well on your way to fixing your own “please ask for assistance” signs in your library.

pic by carpaccio