Drafting Social Media Policies
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Drafting Social Media Policies

Learn Social Media Policy for Business, Corporate Social Media Policy Examples. Includes a Social Media Policy Template.
3.5 (27 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
5,537 students enrolled
Created by Eric Schwartzman
Last updated 4/2013
English [Auto-generated]
Price: Free
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 2 hours on-demand audio
  • 4 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Includes a social media policy template and resources
  • More than just one social media policy example
  • Covers social media policy format
  • Capitalize on social marketing opportunities
  • Attract and retain top-notch personnel
  • Thwart obsolescence
  • Social media policy development strategies
  • National Labor Relations Board Guidance on Social Media Policies
  • Business case for corporate social media policies
  • Policy statements, objectives, guiding principles and disclaimers
  • Accommodating for legal matters and security risks
  • Integration with existing corporate policies
  • Building a policy stakeholder coalition
  • Sequencing drafts for review
  • Policing social media policies
  • Disclosure and transparency guidelines, sample disclaimers
  • And much, much more
View Curriculum
  • You will need to know how to cut, paste, drag and drop
Social media policies are critical to any strategic social media marketing business plan. Without a firm grasp of what's permissible by law as well as what's needed to drive adoption internally, you could wind up with a policy that is ruled unlawful by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Why does that matter?

According to a recent research on 400 companies by Cap Gemini and MIT, digitally mature businesses across all categories generate more revenue, are more profitable and command higher market valuation than businesses that refrain from embracing new media.

Social marketing was where we started. Social business is where we're headed.  You can't socialize the organization without rules.  Social media policy development is a critical component of socializing the enterprise. Learn how to draft social media polices for managers and clients.

This course will save you time and money by accelerating the development time you need to draft and gain approval for a social media policy. It will also minimize the risk of instituting an unlawful social media policy, like many major organizations have done already. Save your organization the time and expensive of having to learn your lesson in court.

You'll also get my world renown social media policy template , to get you off and running quickly with everything you need to be aware of to draft an effective social media policy.  Plus, you'll learn the rationale behind the language, so you can explain to your legal counsel, manager or client.

In this course, you get the benefit of my real world experience developing social media policies for major organizations including Edison International, the United States Marine Corps and many others.

Social media has become an integral part of our personal lives. Unless you take the time to specify how (not if) employees can use social media at work, you risk forfeiting the chance of alienating the best and the brightest candidates.  If you're a US-based organization, you might unknowingly violate the National Labor Relations Act.

But regardless of where you're based, draconian social media policies have the potential to severely tarnish your organization's reputation. Don't follow the International Olympic Committee's example.  Get it right the first time.
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Curriculum For This Course
38 Lectures
7 Lectures 15:44

Find out why social media policy development is the cornerstone of effective social media outreach, and learn what goes into an effective social media policy.


Learn about what makes Eric Schwartzman's online courses different.
About this Instructor

Find out what previous attendees of Eric Schwartzman's social media trainings have to say about his courses.

Promotional Materials

Hear everything that's covered in this course on corporate social media policy development.


The rationale of corporate social media policy development.

Business Case for Social Media Policy

Understanding why social media policy is essential to organizational and external communications, the necessity of covering social media in a new policy and reconciling your social media policy with existing corporate policies.

Scalability & Discoverability

What needs to be changed in most IT, IS and Code of Conduct policies when a Social Media Policy is introduced.

Updating Existing Policies
Policy Development
3 Lectures 05:46

Strategies and best practices for assembling representatives from key corporate departments and for bringing them up to speed on social media for business so they are able to make effective decisions about governance.

Building a Stakeholder Coalition

The specific risks and opportunities social media presents on a department by department basis and more on choosing the right coailition stakeholder.

Risks and Opportunities

Best practices for sequencing social media policy drafts for review internally.

Circulating Drafts for Review
15 Lectures 21:24

Why ambiguous social media policies that give employers an unfair disciplinary advantage are ineffective.


Why clear, easy to understand language in a corporate social media policy will make or break the effectiveness of an organization's outreach efforts.


The elements that make up a corporate social media policy.

Anatomy of a Social Media Policy

Best practices for drafting a social media policy that reinforces your corporate culture.

Policy Statement

Suggested objectives and negotitating objectives with the stakeholder coalition prior to social media policy development.

Policy Objectives

Situational and aspirational approaches to defining guiding principles in a social media policy.

Guiding Principles

Obvious and less obvious points on handling the issues of disclosure and transparency in a corporate social media policy.

Disclosure & Transparency

Best practices for extending the reach of social media policies to contractor's and agencies.

Contractors & Agencies

Best practices for drafting disclaimers for corporate social media policies.


How to protect your company and employees from violating the US Federal Trade Commission guidelines on social media

Compensation & Incentives

Respectfulness issues that are not addressed in your code of conduct policy. Encouraging employees to keep internal squabbles off social media without infringing on their legal rights to bargain collectively or engage in concerted or protected activities under the NLRA .

Respectfulness & Diplomacy

The importance of specificity with respect to confidentiality in social media policies.

Trade Secrets

Dealing with camera phones and other visual information when it may compromise security.


How to insure employees are at liberty to use social media freely during a disaster or emergency, particularly if it can be used to help others stay out of harm's way.

During Emergencies

Guidance on developing governance for the sharing the copyrighted works of others in social media.

Legal Matters
Case Study
1 Lecture 07:57

How one of the world's most risk averse organization implemented a social media policy to empower all services members to use social media.

Case Study: US Dept. of Defense
Other Issues
4 Lectures 04:35

The use of social media style guides to police how brands are represented in social media. The lecture references Brian Solis, author of the book The End of Business as Usual.

Policing Policy

The challenges associated with including core values in a social media policy.

Instituting Values

Some organizations develop multiple policies to govern social media usage.  Jeremiah Owyang is referenced in this lecture.

Multiple Policies

How to insure employees have the opportunity to learn how to comply with your social media policy.  For a comprehensive corporate social media training curriculum see my online Social Media Boot Camp, which is available to attendees of this course for half price.

Supplemental Resources
8 Lectures 01:50:38

Brian Solis. Photo by CC ChapmanIf part of your job involves building a business case and winning executive buy-in for social media initiatives inside organizations, you don’t want to miss this audio resource with Brian Solis, released on the eve of the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.
Over the last few years, Future Works founder Brian Solis has shot like a rocket to the top on the social media influence pyramid.  His Conversation Prism has become the de facto graphic for appraising social media channels.  His first book, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” which he co-wrote with Deirdre Breckenridge made the argument for social media engagement, and his just released new book “Engage” provides practical guidance for piloting social media initiatives inside organizations.
In this episode, which was conducted in association with research I’m currently conducting for a book on B2B applications of social media to be published by Wiley late 2010/early 2011, Brian reveals how he wins buy-in and acceptance for social media pilot programs with corporate stakeholders inside organizations.
Topics Discussed:
01:24 – Brian talks about the “ah-ha” and “uh-oh” moments, which usually crystallize the perceived need for social media engagement inside organizations.
02:49 – Using the Conversation Prism to collect meaningful research by searching the each of the different social media channels to uncover where the hot spots are for any given organization.  And based on the findings from those queries, Brian talks about designing social media initiatives that address tangible business needs.
03:31 – Without the research that comes from a thorough investigation of who’s saying what where about a given product, brand or service, there’s no way to ask the right questions to have the “ah-ha” moment.  According to Brian, it is important to understand that conversations are constantly occurring online that drive all kinds of business decisions.  And unless we actually seek out and gauge in the right conversations by listening through filters those decisions will be made without us. It’s the realization that there are not just conversations taking place across the social web. 
03:46 – “There are not just conversations taking place across the social web.  There are influential decision-making steps and processes and considerations that are taking place that are transpiring right now, without us.  And when you can demonstrate the exact cause and effect of what’s transpiring and to what extent, then that “ah-ha” moment is pretty profound,” Brian explains.
05:54 – Successfully implementing social media initiatives inside organizations requires that the projects lead ultimately transition from champion to diplomat, because it is critical to raise awareness of what needs to be accomplished and the required resources to pull it off among the executives who can fund pilots, and who or may not be directly involved in the initiative.
06:33 – “What’s going to be important to these folks [decision makers with P&L responsibility] is that we apply information to them in a way that they’re used to measuring it.  Even though this is new medium, we have to help them learn by speaking their language, and then ultimately teaching them something new, almost like learning a new language through immersion,” says Brian.
07:12 – Much as when ad agencies bid accounts on spec, in order to make the case for a social media initiative, it is necessary to invest the time and resources to figure out where the relevant conversations are taking place, and to try and determine which departments of the organization are most impacted by these conversations.  Are the conversations surrounding customer service issues, engineering issues or marketing-related issues?  The idea is to collect and attribute online conversations to the specific business units or departments inside the organization that they apply.  For Brian, the key to winning buy-in is research, but once he’s got it completed, he’s still not done. 
08:01 -- Brian takes all his research, puts into a snazzy PowerPoint deck and presents it to the C Suite business decision makers to win buy-in.  It’s important that the presentation be distilled to the point where it’s not overwhelming. It must provide clear overview as to the opportunities that exist, and provide tangible suggestions of what can be done to address them and then how those efforts will be learned over time.
09:43 – When it comes to the argument about whether or not it’s necessary to justify the ROI of social media engagement, Brian takes the high road.  “Change isn’t always something that’s easy to embrace.  Maybe the demand for metrics or ROI is stall tactic, because there’s this fear of change or what have you.  But whatever it is, don’t spend your energy and resources debating it.  Just work with it,” says Brian.  And social media can be measured more effectively than old school marketing and public relations.
11:21 – When it comes to measuring social media, Brian likes to establish the cost per action because in his mind, that’s the most tangible metric for determining the value of a conversation. In other words, what happened as a result of the conversation?  Whether its click-throughs, links, registrations, shares, downloads or sales, cost per action focuses on the outcome of the conversations, rather than the conversation itself, but it’s important to note that sales are not the only measurable transactions that have real business value to organizations.
12:18 – The most common question Brian gets from stakeholders inside organizations about social media implementation is, “What is that we’re going to accomplish?  How many people is this going to take?  And what’s going to cost? And then, what does success look like?  I hear that in every single conversation,” says Brian.  And one way to get those answers is through research, which he has a blue print for conducting at www.conversationprism.com.
13:01 – By documenting, categorizing and quantifying the results of your research by issue and the part of the organization impacted, you build the business case.  Based on the formula Brian lays out in his book Engage, finding relevant conversations, engaging whoever’s behind them, monitoring for their response and then following up  takes roughly 25 minutes of someone’s time.  So if you’re going to try and measure cost per action, it really comes back to the amount of time you’ve invested in a conversation to try and stimulate that action.  So if it’s 25 minutes per action, you just look at the research and evaluate which conversations the organization has the organization has the most to gain by engaging, count up the number of conversations and multiply by 20 to 25 minutes per engagement, and that will give you some idea of what kind of resources you need to address that opportunity.
15:14 – In terms of where the pockets of resistance for social media engagement are inside most organizations, Brian says it’s different every time.  But a lot of it has to do with where the champions for social media inside that organization are.  “The thing that I’ve learned is this.  If there aren’t already champions there -- and based on the research you will find that there are multiple opportunities, you just have to prioritize which one it is that you pilot based on the data that comes back – everyone has concerns, or they also have incorrect perspectives with respect to what can be accomplished through social media.  So there’s a lot of education there.  So having answers to all the skeptical questions that you could possibly get before you go into that meeting is going to be extremely helpful because people will ask you more questions that will postpone doing it the right way.  So having those answers is what it’s going to take to get at least some, initial level of support,” says Brian.  You might not get enterprise wide acceptance from the get go, but that’s okay.  Focus on getting the resources for the pilot program and use that as an opportunity to demonstrate value to others inside the organization.
16:42 – When Brian is doing his research, his uses the Katie Paine method of coupling words indicative of a bad customer experience with the company’s name inside all the search boxes of all the social media channels in the Conversation Prism. So he takes words like suck, or die or hate to surface those conversations with the greatest sense of urgency.  Brian says this is a very powerful way to raise eyebrows and incite action.
18:43 – According to Brian, you can’t bill for educating customers to reorganize for social media.  “There is a general misperception that social media is centralized.  And it’s not.  Because when you do the research, when you do the listening aspect of it, you will find that the more meaningful conversations directly align with divisions of your organization,” says Brian.  “You can always map it perfectly to HR, sales, marketing, the executives, PR, what have you.”  Brian recommends creating a chart that shows the percentages of conversations that apply to the different divisions, so the stakeholders have a sense of which parts of their company are most under siege.  In order to win the support you need across the entire organization, they have to see who it impacts. 
20:30 -- “The conversation takes place online.  If you aren’t there to hear it, did it really happen?  And once you can show that it did,” says Brian.  And once you show those opportunities that were missed, you can show them what they could be doing to turn those conversations into measurable business gains.  “The only reason you have skeptics and push back is because they don’t know what’s taking place.  And if you can show them not only what’s happening, but what the opportunities are that lie within, you can start to bring people to the table in a collaborative format,” continues Brian.
21:15 – “Every business is going to become more not just socially but socially engaged and that is, any division of a business that’s affected by outside activity is going to have to pay attention to what’s going on, and eventually they might ask to start participating in that in order to steer it in the right direction,” says Brian. “Every division needs someone to almost be like what was a community manager for the entire organization, now has, sort of a community manager specifically for that division.  You don’t just suddenly create the social media team overnight,” says Brian, who can see the day when, in the vein of a brand style guide, social style guides will be created to help community managers effectively manage a brand’s personality through social media.
25:27 – The key to overcoming pockets of resistance within the organization, especially in legal and HR, is again, the data, as well as the extent and effect it has on the organization’s goals. When it comes to measuring the influence of a conversation, Brian looks at how many people are following the person driving the conversation and how many people does the conversation touch.
26:11 – Defining a common goal is a critical first step to getting stakeholders on board. The easier you make it for others to support you, the easier it is to execute the pilot program effectively, which Brian says is often overlooked by organizations. But tools are available, they’re free and as long as you’re willing to invest the time, you’ve got a relatively good prospect of success.
27:22 – If he’s acting in the capacity of a champion, he asks himself, “What are we trying to accomplish” and then works backward to determine what type of research and metrics are indicative of opportunities. There have to be some kind of business objectives behind your social media initiative, and you have to be able to define them.  If he doesn’t know what those objectives are, he’s asking probing questions to find them so he can map tools to tactics.
28:53 – Brian is hosting the Blogger Lounge with Stephanie Agresta and the Windows Phone team at SXSW this year, and they’re kicking off a party with the Tech Set on Friday night.  Brian says the Windows 7 Phone looks awesome, and remarks about AT&T’s miserable phone service.
31:43 – End
More Audio Resources
Getting Buy In and Resources For Social Media

National Labor Relations Board Report on Social Media Cases
35 pages

National Labor Relations Board Second Report on Social Media
24 pages

Title 32, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 234
Conduct on the Pentagon Reservation
1 page


Although the National Labor Relations Board's Acting General Counsel has issued three advisory reports about his views on corporate social media policies within the past year, the Board had not decided an actual case.  That changed on September 7, 2012, when the Board decided Costco Wholesale Corporation and United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 371, No. 34-CA-012421. 
In Costco, the Board reviewed an employee handbook which contained a prohibition on electronic postings that "damage the Company, defame any individual or damage any person's reputation."  The Board held that the company's policy was unlawful.  It concluded that the posting prohibition was overbroad, because it could be construed to "chill" the right of employees to engage in "protected, concerted activity".

Employers should be aware of the Costco decision moving forward, because it is Board law and gives weight to the Acting General Counsel's prior pronouncements on social media, and it provides guidance on specific language that should not be included in your company's rules.  Costco is likely the first of many more cases to come on the issue of social media.    
NLRB Issues First Decision on Social Media Policy
18 pages

Dan Goldman, legal counsel at Mayo Clinic and Advisory Board member to the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, discusses the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which sets national standards for the security of electronic protected health information; and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.
Dan specializes in Internet law, HIPAA and Privacy law, telemedicine, trademark law, copyright law, and social media legal issues.  

Topics Covered:

  Identifiable health information
  The HIPAA Security Rule
  Confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule
  Patient rights over medical information
  The HIPAA Patient Privacy Rule
  How advances in electronic technology can erode the privacy of health information
  Impact of recently NLRB rulings on patient privacy
  HIPAA compliant social media policy
  Importance of social media compliance training
HIPAA Social Media Guidelines

Lisa Milam-Perez, who edits a blog by CCH Wolters Kluwer about US law and business practices, and who writes on guidance from the National Labor Relations Board, says organizations need to be more specific in the language they use to govern the use of social media policy for US-based employees.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, US-based employees have a legal right to organize to improve their working conditions, even if that effort includes publicly criticizing their employer or discussing confidential information, such as a salaries, on social networks.

"An employer’s policies “should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees,” according to Solomon. Distilled to its essence: standard labor law principles apply here. That means that even if it does not expressly bar NLRA-protected activity, the NLRB would still find fault with a policy that:

  • “chills” employees from exercising their protected Section 7 rights;
  • significantly burdens an employee’s exercise of those rights;
  • was enacted in direct response to union activity; or
  • is applied in such a manner that it restricts the exercise of protected rights."
Why Your Social Media Policy May Be Illegal
About the Instructor
Eric Schwartzman
4.2 Average rating
3,795 Reviews
54,252 Students
21 Courses
Multidisciplinary team leader

After 15+ years of marketing, public affairs and digital product management experience, I can lead multidisciplinary teams with the urgency of an entrepreneur, the sensitivity of a diplomat and the effectiveness of a scrum master.

I founded the first content management system for corporate communications, iPRSoftware (formerly iPressroom) before applying the merits of big data analytics to public affairs initiatives for the U.S. Dept. of State and DoD.  Currently, I lead digital innovation at a $1B industrial manufacturer responsible for critical infrastructure power equipment.

I'm also a digital product management, demand generation, search engine optimization, email marketing, and marketing automation expert with experience integrating and implements multiple platforms. 

In 2011, I cowrote the best-seller “Social Marketing to the Business Customer," the first book on B2B demand generation and created a portfolio of self-paced online courseware used by more than 36k students.