Tag Archives: social media guidelines

Are you truly prepared when communications ‘kick back’ on Social Media?

Not so long ago – my colleague, friend and co-author, @DavidTaylor kindly created a Guest Blog sharing insights related to effective media relations and brand protection. Media Relations and Brand Protection in a Social Media Age.

Being prepared for any kick back on social media is now critical. social media guidelines, social media relations, social media advice

And yet, organisations often go about sending communications to their audiences without considering the question – ‘Is this communication likely to get any
‘kick back’ in the social media space and if so what ‘lines do we take’.  Seems simple enough – but let’s just break this down:

  1. The social media communication channels require a watchful eye and speed to response. Therefore, you’d need to ‘man up’ the resources for watching, listening and responding during.  If you know you are expecting some recourse – then you’d be watching and listening to what’s happening and responding as quickly as possible.
  2.  How to respond? What are the official ‘lines to take’?  Have you got some key personnel on hand to act as the ‘Press Officer’ into the social media community team so that they can a direct link to be able to query any specific issues?  Or have you pre-prepared official statements from the CEO (or other relevant responses) – so that you have questions to answers, or responses to kick back from an official source.

Recently, I was witness to a campaign where social wasn’t considered – and without naming names or going into too much detail – here’s what happened.

Case Study:

Company A needed to communicate a change in their policy to their audience (about 60,000 people). The changes to the policy were quite complex and could easily have been misconstrued.

A rather lengthy (as it had to be due to sector regulations) was communicated via mail to their audience. With the call to action to call if there were any questions.  The call support team were briefed in to deal with any questions.

The mailer hit.

The social media community management team didn’t know anything about it!

Kickback on Twitter and Facebook (usual places people use for complaints, comments etc) started happening. Lots of anger was vented at the changes.

The social media community management team very quickly realised that these were not one offs and quickly realised,  due to the scale of kick back, there was clearly some mass communication that had hit.

The team dealt with it in a professional way – and very quickly got to grips with the bigger picture.

Created a direct line of comms into the senior leadership team so they too were briefed in on ‘lines to take’ – bringing clarity to some of the elements that had clearly been misconstrued and pacifying an angry audience.


The social media team – front line voice of the business, were not made aware of the communication.

We see this happening all the time – lack of ‘joined up’ communications leads to confusion, frustration and  in a social and transparent space – can make an organisation look plain stupid.

Had they been informed – they would have been prepared with lines to take, knowledge about the likely questions to respond to.


  • Communications have to be joined up.  It’s as bad as sending out a marketing promotion and not telling the front line telesales team about it. When someone calls talking about the promotion – the telesales person is left thinking ‘I don’t know anything about this’.  Poor.
  • If you are sharing key news – be sure that everyone who needs to know about it, knows about it.
  • Ask the question – do we expect any ‘kick back’ on this – and if so – prepare ‘lines to take’.
  • Ensure that front line team have a direct link into senior comms/management so that they can quickly access any  specific information they may require.


@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of marketing strategy and online visibility – covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.

Want to talk to the team at Carvill Creative about your social media activity or training needs? We’re happy to chat, so simply ‘get in touch’.

Finally, why not download our useful Social Media Marketing Planner and Marketing Plan. They’re totally free to download and use.


Creating Social Media Guidelines for your Business

Many of the questions I get asked during the social media training I deliver relate directly to ‘safeguarding’ social marketing activity and the implications of employees participating in social media can have on a business or brand.

Rather than a business bury their head in the sand and create a policy of ‘no participation’ – I advocate a business getting involved andchecklisthaving a clear communication plan and social media guidelines which all within the organisation can clearly understand.

So – consider creating such guidelines for your business:

Template Guidelines…

These guidelines apply to [CompanyABC] employees or contractors who create or contribute to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of Social Media.

Whether you log into Twitter, Google+, Yelp, Wikipedia, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook, or comment on online media stories — these guidelines are for you.

While all [CompanyABC] employees are welcome to participate in Social Media, we expect everyone who participates in online commentary to understand and to follow these simple but important guidelines. These rules might sound strict and contain a bit of legal-sounding jargon but please keep in mind that our overall goal is simple: to participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation and of course follows the letter and spirit of the law.

1.         Gain authorisation from the Marketing Manager at [CompanyABC] for any social media activity where [CompanyABC] is the brand / organisation you will be discussing.

2.         Always be mindful that there are some topics we won’t comment on, this is a good area to be asking for help in. Have you ever wondered what can a commercial solicitor help with? This is it. They would set guideline to avoid such as information about financials, intellectual property, trade secrets, management changes, lawsuits, shareholder issues, layoffs, and contractual agreements with partners, customers, and suppliers (more details at https://swiftbonds.com/bid-bond/).   When getting involved in any ‘online social’ conversations – then always consider the above.

3.         If you have permission to be ‘speaking online’ about [CompanyABC] (pre agreed with Marketing Manager) then always be transparent and state that you work at [CompanyABC]. If your objective is to be the communicator for [CompanyABC] on social networks, then ensure that the profile you create is fitting and on message and clearly states that you are an employee of [CompanyABC]. If you are writing about [CompanyABC] or a competitor, use your real name, identify that you work for [CompanyABC] and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be the first to say so.

4.         Never represent yourself or [CompanyABC] in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true and not misleading; all claims must be substantiated.

5.         Post meaningful, respectful comments — in other words, please, no spam and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive. Remember, once it’s out there, it’s out there.

6.         Use common sense and common courtesy: for example, it’s best to ask permission to publish or report on conversations/material/research etc that is meant to be private or internal to [CompanyABC]. Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate [CompanyABC’s] privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines for external commercial speech.

7.         Stick to your area of expertise and do feel free to provide unique, individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at [CompanyABC].

8.         When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming antagonistic, do not get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly: feel free to ask the Marketing Manager for advice and/or to disengage from the dialogue in a polite manner that reflects well on [CompanyABC].

9.         If you want to write about the competition, make sure you behave diplomatically, have the facts straight and that you have the appropriate permissions.

10.       Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties [CompanyABC] may be in litigation with.

11.       Never participate in Social Media when the topic being discussed may be considered a crisis situation. Even anonymous comments may be traced back to your or [CompanyABC’s] IP address. Refer all Social Media activity around crisis topics to the Marketing Manager.

12.      Always provide working links to relevant material available on other blogs and web sites. Disclose any sources fully through credits, links and trackbacks unless the source has requested anonymity.

13.       Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and [CompanyABC’s] confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Google has a long memory.

14.       Ensure that any personal social media accounts that could be construed as associated to [CompanyABC] clearly state a disclaimer in the profile outline. Eg: The views in this thread are my own.

NOTE: Mainstream media inquiries must be referred to the Marketing Manager.

These guidelines are purely that – ‘guidelines’.  You will need to consider what’s right for you and blend with your own internal documentation. Create a set a guidelines that works for your organisation and clearly communicate them to all relevant team within the organisation.

@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of online visibility – covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.

For marketing and social media advice – view the Carvill Creative Blog