It’s essential for any company using social media, especially larger entities, to set forth guidelines so that it’s clear what is acceptable in the space.

A brand that always been ahead of social curve is Southwest Airlines. The airline emphasized its social savviness by attending BlogWorld, a large new media event, and taking part in the expo, where they provided a Southwest lounge area along with complimentary nuts, inflatable airplanes and more.

One thing I thought was really awesome is that they provided handouts featuring the social media guidelines they set forth for their employees. While they may be specific to Southwest, the rules can easily be applied to any brand and provide a great outline for those beginning to brainstorm putting together something similar for their own company.

Social Media Guidelines

  1. Follow Southwest Standards (the golden rule)

    Employees are responsible for the comments they make on the internet. Do not post materials that may reflect negatively on Southwest or its leaders, employees or customers. Any conduct that would be in violation of company rules may be grounds for discipline or dismissal.

  2. Employee Identification

    If employees talk online about the company or its services, it should be made clear they are a Southwest employee. Employees are to identify that they are not speaking on behalf of Southwest Airlines. Profiles should include a disclaimer similar to “the postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Southwest Airlines’ officers, directors, of employees.” Remember that only officially-designated employees are authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

  3. Be an Ambassador

    Employees should strive to represent Southwest Airlines in the best way at all times. Though employees may not be speaking on behalf of the company, they are still representatives of Southwest.

  4. Shhhh – It’s a Secret

    Keep confidential information confidential. If secret information winds up in the wrong hands, Southwest’s culture, reputation and livelihood are at risk. Company-related internet communication should only discuss publicly-known information. If employees aren’t sure whether information is public, don’t make it public.

  5. Respect the Privacy of Others

    The lines between public and private are not as defined in the internet space. Be careful when posting content that involves details of coworkers’ personal lives. Assume that everything employees post will be online and stay there forever, for anyone to see.

  6. Company Trademarks and Logos

    Southwest’s logos, trademarks and copyrighted materials may not be used in any manner without the express written perion of the Southwest Airlines licensing department in marketing.

  7. Follow the Rules

    Do not engage in illegal or unlawful activities. Even posting comments, pictures, videos or other information about participation in illegal activities is against the rules. Do not post or share copywrighted materials unless a license has been granted to use those materials.

  8. Be Accountable

    Please report inappropriate online behavior by Southwest employees.

Which guideline do you think is most important?