At the American Shakespeare Center, we are getting ready to expand our social media footprint. Internally, this plan has met with a rich combination of excitement and concern. What happens when we let our ASC family loose on Twitter, YouTube, and blogs? How can we make sure that we are all representing the ASC in a way that enhances our brand and deepens the conversation with all our communities? In order to help ease fears and to help our social media volunteers feel supported, I began putting together social media guidelines.

Besides guidelines, we also felt it necessary to be clear on our goal for this social media outreach. This is what we determined:

The overarching goal of all our social media outreach is to spread the word about what a fantastic organization this is and the passionate, compelling work that goes on in the Playhouse, office, classrooms, and on the road. Also, to engage in conversation about who we are, what we do, why we do it the way we do, what we are learning, how much fun we are having, and what is going on in the industry.

After a lot of conversation on Twitter, I’ve decided to post our guidelines here. Let me know what you think and feel free to pass on anything you find useful.

These guidelines were compiled with help from the guidelines of Intel, as published in Engage! by Brian Solis, and Time Warner Cable, as published in the Fast Company article, “Corporate Social Media Policies: The Good, the Mediocre, and the Ugly”.

Social Media Guidelines for the American Shakespeare Center

We are excited about the potential for engaging our current and potential audience through social media. The connections made possible through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and other social networks allow for a more direct conversation with all the people who love us already and those who would like to hear about us. We hope that you will want to join us in these conversations and we want you to feel prepared when you do. Below are a few guidelines to help everyone engage in a way that supports the brand values of the American Shakespeare Center: serious fun, life-long learning, community, and great language.

Transparency is vital. Whether you are communicating on an official ASC channel or not, please know that you represent the American Shakespeare Center. It is best to include a mention of your connection in your profile and also mention it when posting comments on blogs that are related to what we do.

Private vs. Public. Don’t publish confidential or other proprietary information. Anything having to do with legal, internal personnel, or confidential financial matters should never be discussed outside of appropriate internal communications. Follow copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.

Write what you know. Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at the ASC and in the world.

Learn from others. Use the web to find out who else is blogging or publishing on a topic of particular interest and cite those individuals, including links to their work.

Ask before you speak. Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their prior approval. When a reference is made, where possible, link back to the source.

The web is a permanent record. Items posted online will likely be indexed by search engines and copied by other sites, so it can remain public and associated with you even if the original post is deleted. Post with care.

Be professional. Treat others with the utmost respect in your conversations. Ethnic slurs, personal insults, foul language, or conduct that would not be acceptable in our offices should not be used.

Give the benefit of the doubt. Most everyone is doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. Please assume that they meant no ill will until proven otherwise and then see the next guideline.

Avoid the trolls. Refrain from engaging in heated discussion and use good judgment when expressing opinions that may pose a potential conflict. Do not post angry comments or attack individuals engaging in the discussion. If someone attacks you, reply politely and disengage.

Play nice. Do not insult or disparage ASC, its productions or offerings, or any fellow employees, even if specific names are not mentioned. The same goes for other theatres or “competitors” of any kind.

Proof your work. Knowing that the web often takes on a more casual tone, please remember that language is part of the bedrock of our mission. Read it over before you post and keep in mind the writing guidelines Ralph put together.

If it gives you pause, pause. Please don’t post something that you would not say openly to a room full of patrons, donors, and strangers. If you are about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, stop and think. Ultimately, what you publish is yours, as is the responsibility. Also, do not alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.

This post was originally published at Amy Wratchford’s blog and reprinted with her permission.

  • August 11, 2010