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The Best Social Media Policy For Your Newsroom Is The Shortest

A bunch of rules typed on a board

Source: litherland's Flickr page

I was looking at The Guardian’s policy on blogging and commenting, (thanks, Steve Buttry) thinking about how great it was because of its simplicity and brevity. Look at it: it’s eight points long and 116 words.

A short social media policy is a must for newsrooms, or any office for that matter and here’s why:

For starters, long social media policies create a barrier to entry. There isn’t a newsroom in the world that doesn’t have a handful of people who still need to be “sold” on social media; a multi-page policy is just going to reinforce their disinterest in getting involved.

Secondly, the more text there is, the less likely people are to read it. Can you recite a single line of your credit card’s terms of use? This just sets people up for failure (though, as Steve responded to my comment, that may be the idea in some cases).

Lastly, interacting on social networks is no different from social interaction. Creating a policy for Twitter that’s separate from the general conduct policy (everyone has those, right?) is stupid because it establishes different rules where only one set are needed; it creates confusion. Is there a newsroom somewhere that allows reporters to spout off personal opinions about their sources in public or spill confidential information when they’re off the clock? No, which is why it’s obvious that the same goes for social networking.

What do you think? What’s your social media policy like? What’s the rationale behind it? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Related: My Delicious bookmarks on social media policy (they’re good and you can feel free to grab them for your own blogging purposes).

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