Your Values are Showing: Social Media Policy, pt. 1

This post is part of an ongoing series on developing a social media policy for your organization. To download the Social Media Policy Workbook for Jewish Organizations, click here.

The phrase “social media policy” tends to bring a couple possibilities to mind:  

  • a long, legal document gathering dust in a file cabinet along with the other “policies”
  • a punitive list of “thou shalt nots” that sucks all the fun out of social networking

Neither option need be the case!
An effective social media policy is a living document, one that gets re-examined in light of new initiatives, new technologies, staff turnover, or just the passage of time. The nature of the social web demands regular reflection and evaluation, an advantage that often gets overlooked in light of the overwhelming speed and excitement of technology. But it is just that frenzy that should move us to think about the digital fingerprint we are creating for ourselves and our organizations. How are we representing ourselves online? Does it reflect who we are – and who we want to be – on-land?

As to the second point – those “thou shalt not” lists – this is where a solid values statement really comes in handy. Social media policies are about setting boundaries, yes, but those boundaries are intended to act the same way as lines on a basketball court or the different variations of movement for chess pieces – they are the guidelines that make play possible, fair, and fun. A social media policy entirely devoted to “how we respond to negative comments” is like a game of soccer where the only rule is “don’t touch the ball with your hands.” Ok, but what CAN we do?

Your values statement is the guide to begin answering this question.

Here’s an example: the Schechter Day School Network recently began answering this question for themselves. Since going through an ambitious re-branding campaign, the schools have begun focusing on their efforts on understanding and engaging social media platforms, and they knew developing a social media policy would be crucial.

One of the values that emerged in the re-branding campaign was curiosity; Schechter schools are devoted to empowering their students to become global citizens, to be as curious about the world around them as the school’s namesake, so it was a natural choice. The teachers and students are already working hard to bring a sense of curiosity into their learning community – how could they bring that same spark of curiosity online?

The schools came up with several ideas they could weave into a policy. They suggested that they could:

  • Be curious themselves: This may come through as posting regular questions to their community that demonstrate genuine curiosity.
  • Show curiosity in action: Share examples of students’ (and teachers’!) curiosity through pictures or other documentation of the learning.
  • Encourage curiosity: Perhaps the schools will use their social media outlets to host contests or scavenger hunts that engage their followers and friends, and get them to begin thinking like the students do every day.

Approaching social media in this way can make a huge impact on how you engage with these powerful tools. What would it mean to literally have a policy of curiosity…or acceptance, or klal yisrael, or transparency, or individuality, or any number of values your organization may hold dear? How would that change the way you think about your role in the world of social media?

The Workbook includes other examples of organizational values and how they can be reflected online. I encourage you to download it, gather your team, begin thinking about how the core values of your organization could be genuinely reflected in the digital world, and let us know how it goes! Let your values show!

(Do you have an organizational values statement? If not, now’s the time! Our partners over at Big Duck have some great ideas about why that’s important, and how you can make it happen.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *