Meeting Mentor Magazine — Summer 2010
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Developing Social Media Rules Of Engagement
Lesley Kyle, CMP

When the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) jumped into the social media fray some 18 months ago, we had a vision of what we wanted to accomplish: to provide current and prospective SPE members with a forum to share ideas and to foster networking. Now nearly 5,000 LinkedIn group members and 1,400 Facebook fans later, we’ve learned valuable lessons—some the hard way.

It’s my responsibility as a meeting planner to look after the society’s best interests and to protect the brand. Since ours is a professional association, it’s critical that we maintain and protect that image. We control the organization’s social media presence just as thoughtfully and deliberately as we manage our website.

As the SPE social media groups and pages have grown, our team, comprised of fi ve staff and one volunteer leader, came to the realization that it was time to develop a code of conduct. The code of conduct language that we developed is intended to protect not only the society’s interests, but those of our members and social media participants as well. While much of the language is just plain common sense, it manages the participants’ expectations regarding the type of experience they’ll have in our LinkedIn groups or Facebook pages. This policy sets the tone for the discussions that occur within our groups, and provides us with recourse and direction should any inappropriate activity occur.

Codes of conduct should not be so lengthy that they lose the readers’ interest; like any other social media post, it should be direct and to-the-point. In addition, codes of conduct should not be so restrictive and prohibitive that they preclude the type of activity that motivated you to start these initiatives in the first place: to encourage open dialogue and networking.

With that in mind, the basic language that we have developed to guide our social media activities follows. Why not adopt this or similar language for your organization’s online presence?

Welcome to the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Community! As a member of the Community, you agree to observe the following guidelines:

1. Please do not post or share content that contains material that is inappropriate, unlawful, threatening, abusive or profane.

2. Members should not violate the property rights of others. Do not post any content that infringes on any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights of any party.

3. Members should not violate local, state, national or international laws in connection with the use of the Discussion Boards.

4. Do not post links that lead to viruses, worms, corrupted fi les or any other software or programs that may adversely affect the operation of another computer.

5. Please refrain from spamming other members. If you see spam on a discussion board, or receive spam from another member, please alert Group Management.

6. Members should not impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent his/her affi liation to another person or entity.

7. Please refrain from reposting the same discussion multiple times; SPE reserves the right to delete duplicate posts.

8. SPE does not endorse, and specifi cally disclaims, any responsibility or liability for any content submitted to the online community.

9. By participating in this online forum, members grant SPE a perpetual, exclusive, royalty-free and irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer and sell content posted to the Community.

Post your code of conduct policy Lesley Kyle, CMP, is senior event manager at in a prominent location on your socialMedia site; it should be clearly visible to all participants. If you prefer not to post the policy in its entirety, publish the full-length policy on your website and post the link with a brief explanation of the policy’s objectives and goals on your social media page.

While it’s important to develop and post a code of conduct on your social media sites, it is equally important to monitor your content and to be responsive. Our team members who developed this code of conduct also monitor our sites to ensure that appropriate content is posted and that feedback, both positive and negative, is responded to by someone in a position of authority within 24 hours of the original post. Vigilance is key.
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