Social Media Week: Transparency Thursday

By Renee Revetta | Sep 22, 2011
More Articles by Renee

An aspect of social media not to be forgotten in my Social Media Week series is transparency. I asked my Twitter followers for transparency best practices, got some awesome tips and added in my own, as well. Many thanks to @Marijean, @NikkiRogan and @ErinJones. Whether your company already has a social media policy or your policy hasn’t been reviewed since 2009, it never hurts to brush up on policy ideas.

Transparency Tips:

1. Don’t report on or discuss matters that you’re not the “owner” of – basically, stick to your area of expertise. On this same note, don’t speak on behalf of the company (or behind a logo) when you’re just speaking your opinion.

2. Reveal where you work on your public social media profiles (like Twitter). It’s a standard practice to list your workplace within your Twitter bio if you tweet anything industry-related and/or link to your company’s website in your profile.

3. Online statements don’t die. Think twice before you share and always consider:

Would I be ok with this statement being published on the front page of the NYT with my name printed beside it?

Would I be embarassed to share this with my grandmother?

4. Search Mojo employees uses the #client hashtag on Twitter when/if we re-tweet or reference a client on Twitter. We also only tweet client tweets that would interest us anyway – not just because they’re a client.

5. When in doubt, use common sense. Is this public information? Would my CEO be ok with this if I shared the information?

Hopefully these tips and guidelines will help get you started.

There must be a backbone behind these transparency guidelines – and that would be your corporate social media policy. Companies should work with their legal departments and devise a smart, all-encompassing policy for each employee to sign. Whether companies ask all employees or just employees that represent the company in the online space to sign the policy is their decision. To me – it’s better to be safe than sorry. All social media policies are different and should be customized for your situation. Whether the policy is long or short, full or legal jargon or everyday language,  you want employees to be able to remember the essential parts for easy reference.

Some great social media policy examples:

IBM’s policy  |  Altimeter Group’s social media policy list  | 10 must haves for your social media policy from Mashable

To keep following the main event at Social Media Week, check out the post Social Media Week Thursday – What’s On Today.  (You’ll notice that they covered a topic about social media & employees – discussing social media policies and transparency online. Good topic if I do say so myself.)


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  • Hi Renee,
    I appreciate the work you put into collecting the tips for this blog. It is very helpful and answers alot of questions that someone like myself has about establishing a social media program properly. As you can tell, it is a new field for me. I do have a question about the first point, particularly the “stick to your area of expertise.”

    I personally find the most interesting face-to-face interactions are those where ideas are exchanged on both sides, leading to mutual enlightenment on a subject. Where as blogs of expertise can be informative, blogs like yours that ask for more participation, and sharing different points of view, can be far more interesting. Worded correctly, situations that the blogger may not know everything about a subject, but can still report on it as they see it and illicit more qualified information, open to correction if necessary, makes it equally transparent. These discussions can engage the reader and promote responses or links (tools for measurement) to further propogate a question.

    PS. I am totally open to correction on this point if I have misunderstood the discussion.

  • Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I was specifically referring to the instance where in a company, one employee discusses customer service issues when that person actually works in research & development for example. I should have clarified that this really pertains mostly to company social media policies. Hope that clarifies a bit. I think for personal accounts or personal growth, we’re bound to discuss or share items that might not classify as our main area of expertise.

    Thanks for reading,