Final Draft – Social Media and Online Participation Policy and Guidelines

UPDATED JULY 2012 – Revised guidance is available here on Re:WorkDigital


I have been meaning to republish this for some time now, and after the 2 events i have attended, they have given me a virtual kick in the bum to get on with it.

This will come in 2 parts, the broad policy and supplementary guidance which i will post separately. We are working through a process and have already conducted an equality impact and needs assessment as part of our commitment to equality and diversity in DCC.

Feel free to adapt


‘Social media‘ is the term commonly given to websites and online tools which allow users to interact with each other in some way – by sharing information, opinions, knowledge and interests. As the name implies, social media involves the building of communities or networks, encouraging participation and engagement.


These principles apply to your online participation and sets out the standards of behaviour expected as an employee of the Council. Remember, you should participate in the same way as you would with other media or public forums such as giving presentations.

  • Be professional; remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your directorate, department or team.
  • Be responsible, be honest at all times and when you gain insight; share it with others where appropriate.
  • Be credible, be accurate, fair, and thorough and make sure you are doing the right thing.

Always remember that participation online results in your comments being permanently available and open to being republished in other media.

Never give out personal details like home address and phone numbers.

Also be aware that you may attract media interest in you as an individual, so proceed with care whether you are participating in a business or a personal capacity. If you have any doubts, take advice from your line manager.

Stay within the legal framework and be aware that libel, defamation, copyright and data protection laws apply.


General Guidelines

Blogs are perhaps the most well known example of social media, but the term encompasses other platforms. Examples include podcasts, ‘wikis’ (such as Wikipedia), message boards, social bookmarking websites (such as, social networking websites (such as facebookbebo, MySpace) and content sharing websites (such as flickr, YouTube).

‘Social media’ can be referenced in a variety of ways, often depending on which sector is discussing it. Other terms which may be used in a similar context include ‘social software’, ‘social computing’ and ‘Web 2.0’. For convenience we use ‘social media’ throughout.

The growing popularity of social media has attracted the attention of companies and individuals who believe that these platforms open up new opportunities for communication. The opportunities are indeed there, as are the pitfalls. The following guidelines are there to provide you with information to make responsible decisions and to get the best out of the tools available.

Whether or not a DCC employee chooses to create or participate in a blog, wiki, online social network or any other form of online publishing or discussion is his or her own decision. However, emerging online collaboration platforms are fundamentally changing the way DCC employee’s work and engage with each other, customers and our partners.

People have been dismissed because of their online activities. While such cases may be rare, it is important as an employee to be aware that posting information about your company can not be isolated from your working life. Any information published online can be accessed around the world within seconds and will be publicly available for all to see.

As an employee, you must take the following into consideration when using social media:

  1. Know and follow DCC’s Employee Code of Conduct.
  2. Understand your responsibilities identified in the Social Media and Online Participation Principles and Policy
  3. Don’t forget your day job. You must ensure that your online activities do not interfere with your job, your colleagues or commitments to customers. [added 4th June] If you are not using the sites/tools to support you directly in your employed position you should always access the sites/tools in your personal time.
  4. DCC Employee’s are personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—protect your privacy.
  5. Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role at DCC—when you discuss DCC or DCC related matters.  And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of DCC.
  6. If you publish content to any website outside of DCC and it has something to do with work you do or services associated with DCC, use a disclaimer such as this: “The views expressed here are my own and don’t necessarily represent the views of the County Council.”
  7. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  8. Ask and seek permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to DCC. Don’t cite or reference customers, partners or suppliers without their approval. When you do make a reference, where possible link back to the source.
  9. Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.
    See acceptable behaviour policy and equality and diversity policy
  10. Be aware of your association with DCC in online spaces. If you identify yourself as a DCC employee, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and customers.
  11. Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
  12. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. DCC’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on DCC’s brand.

Please note: Failure to comply with the above guidelines may result in disciplinary action


20 thoughts on “Final Draft – Social Media and Online Participation Policy and Guidelines

  1. This is really good! Are you happy for me to circulate internally? I keep pushing for policy within NCC, hoping a working group will be established soon. Can we edit/reference etc? Seems silly to keep reinventing…

  2. Pingback: Carl's Notepad
  3. Excellent! Nick Hill pointed me towards your link. Do you mind if I use your policy as a basis for ours? Happy to acknowledge the original source. The quicker I can get a policy inplace the quicker I can get our council to embrace social media!

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