Let me give you an example. The marketing director for a mid-size science museum, Jeff, recently showed me a YouTube channel he’d discovered which was created by a camp staff member at the museum. The channel consisted of a few videos of kids making stuff at camp. Jeff said, “I don’t have a problem with this. I love that they are doing this. I have a problem with the fact that they aren’t clearly identifying themselves with the museum, aren’t linking back to the museum’s website, and just generally aren’t making it clear that this camp is a product of our museum.”
His concerns are valid. Whenever visitors enjoy a program or exhibit at the museum, it’s clear to them where they are. They are in the museum. They aren’t going to be confused about what institution created and distributed the content. On the Web, this is not so clear. If staff start blogging, posting videos and photos, etc., it’s important for them to clearly convey their association, so that visitors who check out that content know that they are (virtually) in the museum as they do so. And on the marketing and tracking side, "rogue" blogs, YouTube channels, and Flickr pools that aren't clearly identified can become an annoyance as staff try to get a handle on institutional impact on the Web.
Much as HR distributes an employee handbook that explains both regulations (i.e. no sandals) and opportunities (i.e. health benefits), the marketing or PR team should create a social media handbook that contains both rules and useful resources. This is different from having a social media policy, which is typically all stick, no carrot. Marketing directors like Jeff don’t want to be traffic cops. They want to enable social media activity, and that means providing both guidelines and resources. In this way, the marketing or PR director becomes a gateway in the most positive light--helping staff figure out what tools to use, how to use them, and how to get the most out of them.
On the guidelines side, a social media handbook would include:
- what is considered appropriate for internal and external distribution
- any rules about things that should not be shared with the public or need approval before being released (financials, pictures of kids without permission... this list should be small and discrete)
- how to get a new initiative approved by your manager
- elements that must be included in any initiative. These may include:
- museum logo
- analytics code
- link back to the institution
- links to other social media initiatives (i.e. staff Flickr users must friend each other)
- specific text, tags, or keywords
On the resources side, a social media handbook would include:
- lists of recommended tools and social sites
- information about how to pick the best Web tool for your program/exhibit/initiative
- recommendations for screen names and a list of screen names currently in use per tool
- approved logos in color, black and white, and a square version
- approved photos that can be used
- stylesheets and other graphical elements created for various types of Web templates
- information about where to find legal-to-use images, audio, and video and any licensing rules of the science centre
- a list of other social media initiatives at the museum
The ideal place for such a handbook would be on a wiki, where staff could easily upload links to new content they’ve created on the Web. That way, the wiki becomes both the handbook and a growing catalog of projects. It may make sense for the marketing team to track all of museum’s efforts cumulatively, and having access to such a list would allow them to ensure that they are seeing the whole picture.
The existence of such a handbook doesn’t mean there won’t also be times when there is controversy about the appropriateness of a given piece of Web content. But it will help that conversation happen in a way that is fair to all parties involved.
What would you include in your social media handbook? What guidelines or resources does your organization offer in this regard?