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Approx. reading time: 2 minutes

When I first started working for the BBC I was handed an inch-thick folder labelled “Producer Guidelines.” Small confession: I never read them or certainly not cover to cover as demanded. Be honest have you  read every word of your company’s staff guidelines? Of course you haven’t. Life’s too short.

I’m not saying that organisations shouldn’t have or don’t need rules and regulations. But if they’re over long there’s no point in having them in the first place because they wont get read. The same goes for social media guidelines – the rules of engagement if you like – that dictate staff use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Blogs (like this one) and all the other platforms too numerous to mention. Social media works best for organisations when those doing it have at least a modicum of fun. Over regulation threatens to make it unfun (if there isn’t such a word then there should be). And who in their right mind would want to spend a significant chunk of their lives doing unfun stuff? Not me.

So keep your own social media guidelines short, sharp and to the point. At ACM Training ours run to just a few lines:

Always remember why you’re doing it.
Try not to say anything really daft.
Really try not to say anything that will bring you or us into disrepute.
Use your common sense.
Re-read everything at least once before you hit the send button.
Have fun.
And remember if you really mess up you’re fired!

This article is an abridged extract from the social media training manual that accompanies my social media training workshop. If you’d like to read a sample chapter click here or if you’d like to book a place for just £99 on one ACM’s social media training courses click here.


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Using social media to kick racism out of soccer

Approx. reading time: 2 minutes

Twitter and other social media platforms were implicated by the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in his press conference after the soccer summit at 10 Downing Street aimed at tackling racism in football. Hunt and the FA chairman David Bernstein said, in effect, that while overt racism was now much less a problem inside grounds, outside people were still making racist and homophobic remarks. And while in the past their audience may have numbered just a handful of tiny-minded idiots and those unfortunate enough to overhear the bile spilling out of their twisted mouths, they now have a much wider audience – online.

But legislating against them would be both difficult and, in my view, contrary to the open spirit of the social web. Even trying to outlaw them risks drawing far too much attention to odious individuals who haven’t the courage to make their foul remarks to someone’s face and hide behind the relative anonymity afforded by social network pseudonyms. And with a billion plus social network accounts to monitor we shouldn’t expect the networks themselves to do anything but passive monitoring. We might occasionally persuade the networks and the Internet Service Providers to deactivate the accounts and cut the connections of the worst offenders, but those offenders would soon set up new accounts from new IP addresses.

Better, surely, to simply ignore them. Don’t follow them on Twitter. Don’t retweet their posts – even if only to mock their narrow-mindedness from our lofty, liberal perches. Certainly don’t dignify their comments with comments of our own. Make them social network lepers. Deny them the oxygen of publicity, as we might have said in the old media days.

So here’s my social network manifesto…

Black footballers do a Joey Barton. Gay footballers come out of the closet and start Tweeting so we can follow you and show by simple force of numbers that the overwhelming majority of us – football lovers or not – are decent human beings. Stephen Fry has more than a million followers on Twitter and is a national treasure.

Don’t just let your footballing feet do the talking. Let your tweets do the talking too.