A tale of three policies

The social media policies for employees at Dell, The Coca-Cola Company and adidas are similar in some ways but not others. Overall, Dell’s policy provides clearer definition and consequences.

Similarities
All three policies are conversational in tone, provide contacts for follow-up, encourage respectful dialogue with the community, stress brand protection and address both protecting intellectual property and confidentiality. adidas clearly states, “If you have signed a confidentiality agreement you are expected to follow it.” Dell and Coke use similar language.

All warn of the virtual permanence of social media. adidas and Coke say it is impossible to retract online content. Dell says, “…it will be hard to take down that information completely.” As a tech company, they presumably have an advantage.

Differences
All three policies ask employees to identify themselves and want them to clearly state whether or not they are speaking on behalf of the company. However, adidas and Coke say that only authorized employees can do so, whereas Dell is more squishy. Dell employees should forward requests that they cannot answer to an expert but don’t forbid it completely.

Old fashioned Coca Cola sign
Photo by David Shexnaydre

Dell makes it clear that the policy is the first step to responsible social media use. Dell and Coke offer formal programs for people who use it regularly. adidas doesn’t.

Dell defines social media as “any tool that facilitates conversation over the internet.” Neither adidas nor Coke defines it. adidas and Coke do address using social media at work. Dell doesn’t go there.
Dell outlines consequences, “If you don't follow the principles laid out below when engaging in Social Media you could face serious consequences up to termination in accordance with the laws of the country where you are employed.” adidas and Coke don’t.
While all three are good, Dell’s clear consequence for not following the policy make it the strongest.
Sources
http://blog.adidas-group.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/adidas-Group-Social-Media-Guidelines1.pdf
http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/corp-comm/social-media-policy?c=us&l=en&s=corp
http://www.viralblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/TCCC-Online-Social-Media-Principles-12-2009.pdf

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