Thou Shalt Have A Voice – Social media guidelines require organization change

Update (4 November 2009): the Social media guidelines have been approved.

Social Media Bandwagon (c) Matt Hamm

Social Media Bandwagon (c) Matt Hamm

Here is an interesting task: I am supposed to come up with a draft set of guidelines for staff who are using social media. The task itself did not come as a surprise, as I myself had argued for some time that we needed something like this, particularly to address potential problems with personal blogs and our principle of neutrality.

What I hadn’t counted on was that doing so would suddenly put me into conflict with one of our most dogmatic documents – the Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct says:

Not publish any work (including writings, photographs, video footage, etc.) that has been
produced in connection with, or that is related to, their assignment and functions with the
Federation without prior approval of the Secretary General.

[All staff shall] not publish any work (including writings, photographs, video footage, etc.) that has been produced in connection with, or that is related to, their assignment and functions with the Federation without prior approval of the Secretary General.

This means that anyone who has a blog and writes about work, is sharing photos on Flickr or even just updates their Twitter status with something work related is strictly speaking violating his contract. And that means that, in addition to writing social media staff guidelines I now also have to think about changing the Code of Conduct.

I’m certain that many organizations have similar policies in place. How did you change yours or how would you like to change it?