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Social Media Policy for a Non-Profit Society

on Fri, 07/08/2011 - 22:06

 

Social Media Policy for a Non-Profit Society

by Lloyd Baron, Ph.D.

February 15th, 2011

 

Note: The prototype NPO, used in this paper, is one with membership, stakeholders (board, donors, and community), salaried employees, and a diverse array of programs and activities that service the community. This document is based upon the content of three websites: p://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites; http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php?f=5; http://govsocmed.pbworks.com/w/page/15060450/Web-2-0-Governance-Policies-and-Best-Practices; http://ezinearticles.com/?Social-Networking-Sites---Information-Governance-Issues&id=4880415Segments of over 30 websites dealing with SM were melded to form this policy.

 

General guidelines

Social media (SM) can be defined as any website or medium (including video) that allows for communication with a wide, online audience. Given the enormous potential complexity of SM, it is important for the Society, in the first instance, to designate an advisory body composed of lay  professionals and key staff members that will approve and constantly monitor the design and implementation of the organization’s policies, as well as coordinate other IT (hardware and human resource) related issues. This IT/SM committee, as its first mandate, will address the following over-arching issues:

1.       Vision: The Society must determine the main purposes of SM within the organization: Will it enhance the membership experience? Will it target the greater community to attract new members? Will it explore new revenue streams? Will it identify new possibilities to increase the scope of its branding as specified in its mandate or mission statement? Will the Society establish a presence wherever target audiences or constituencies already congregate online? The Society must decide where it stands at present with respect to its desired relationship with social media and this stance must be re-evaluated frequently.

2.       Evaluation: The Society must analyze the present state of its SM footprint and the potential for expansion. How ready and capable are the employees for participation within this communication medium? What are the present SM modalities that involve the Society, both professional and private? Just how much traction does the organization have on the various sites? The Society must not lull itself by believing that it is not involved in conversations. Standing on the sidelines is not an option; the Society must jump on the chance to influence the direction of these conversations immediately. It is only a matter of scope, scale, and timing that must be decided.

3.       Resource Allocation: The Society must make budget provisions for future SM activities. To what extent can present employees play active roles in the online environment, given their present allocation of time to other activities? Are there any resources for training? What resources can be found and donated, both in kind and in actual incremental funding? No SM initiative should be introduced unless the personnel are adequately trained and resources are in place.

4.        Responsibility: The Society must decide who is responsible for managing and participating in social media.It is important that all employees understand and adhere to the Society’s social media policy, while networking in social media online. However, one employee or a team of employees must assume the Society’s public persona and manage Society’s social media efforts. Vigilant to follow and respond to public commentary, be it praise or complaints, the employee or team has the official responsibility to respond.

 

No matter the scope, for present SM footprint, responsibility matrix, and budget allocated for policy implementation, the following general principles will apply:

1.      The Society will ensure that once it has established its presence in a social media site, it will be updated regularly according to the conventions of each site.

2.      The Society will be flexible as it encourages experimentation and testing of new social media tools/sites and functionalities not currently used by the Society.

3.      The Society will encourage staff, and all stakeholders to frequently use social media and Web 2.0 tools

.      The Society must make training easily available to its employees who want to participate in social media.  SM can create a win-win opportunity. Committed employees are open to learning about how to better leverage these social media sites to further their own careers as well as advancing the goals of the Society. If the Society expects employees to utilize the social networking tools properly it must provide training so the employees adequately reflect and represent The Society in the social media environment. . Make the participation in SM a win-win situation for everybody.

5.      The Society will,whenever possible and appropriate, be supportive of social media sites initiated by the Society’s grassroots community.

6.      The Society will endeavor to ensure consistency of messages and actions across all media platforms.

7.      The Society will respect copyright laws, following norms both within the corporate and non-profit domains.

8.      The Society, while recognizing that its employees probably already exercise good common sense while participating online, must specifically address taboo topics.Confidential, proprietary, non-released company information must stay out of social media. Private and personal information about employees and members must never appear on-line. Nevertheless, the public image of the employees in social media, if they can be associated with the Society, is important. Maliciousness, offensiveness, disparaging comments, untruthful statements, demeaning behaviour, and illegal substance use, are all examples of behaviour the social media policy must address.

9.      The Society must establish ground rules for employee participation in the various SM sites. The Society must walk a fine line with employees; it needs to allow employees the freedom to engage in SM and protect the Society at the same time.

10.   The Society must create a system for monitoring the SM environment. A SM policy is incomplete if the Society does not actually monitor the space where the conversation is happening. There are plenty of tools online to monitor social media; the appropriate tools must be adopted and used.

Online Response Guidelines

Once launched, a successful SM campaign will engage its community. The Society must decide on what and where and the public can engage with it online. The Society must put in place processes that measure and capture external sentiment. If employees observe a posting warranting or inviting response, the Society has to decide who responds and the protocol of response followed. In the first instance, a grid of possible modalities of response needs to be adopted. A most commonly used “what if” grid of responses comes from the most unlikely of sources. The U.S. Air Force Blog Assessment chart is reproduced below.

Social Networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube do not currently allow you to moderate comments before they are published, so you will need someone dedicated to monitor your sites each day. If you receive a negative comment, evaluate whether or not it is constructive. If it is constructive, do not be afraid to engage the person who left it. Even if you don’t have all the right answers, try to find them together. If the comment is not constructive and does not align with the fundamental principles, you can remove it. If you have a blog, you can usually moderate the comments before they are published to your site. Again, if the comment is constructive you should use it as an opportunity to discuss, clear up the misunderstanding, or otherwise work through issues that arise.

What follows may be the matrix of response to be adopted:

1.      Say “Thank you.”Social media depends on conversations to thrive. And, one of social media’s great strengths is its ability to help identify issues. It is good practice to thank people for their posts, even if their post is a complaint or otherwise negative. Use judgment here—you don’t want to thank someone for posting something that violates community guidelines—but saying thank you is a way to underscore

2.      Monitor. Make sure all channels are frequently monitored to avoid unproductive and/or hateful discussion and spam. Remember that a broad, hostile statement often draws little attention. Keep an eye on it, and if no conversation develops, leave it alone. You may want to contact the person privately to see if you can provide assistance.

3.      Take a deep breath.It is important to be calm, thoughtful, and strategic when dealing with a negative post. The person who wrote the post is often upset and may have launched a personal attack; never respond in kind. Take the time to consider whether and how to respond.

4.      Analyze.Look through the flowchart above and decide where the post fits. You will want to have a conversation, either publicly or privately, with selected members of the Society. It is fruitless to try to have a conversation with a “rager” (the social media term for a person who is chronically angry) or a “troll” (the term for people who enjoy stirring up trouble). You can usually tell the difference by looking at other posts by that person.

5.      Clarify.Sometimes social media posts are so brief that they can be misunderstood. Make sure your intent is clear. You also may want to be sure that you understood the intent of the person who posted; if the person seems very upset or if the topic is sensitive, you may want handle the situation offline.

6.      Confirm facts.Make sure you know the facts and current Society policies and procedures related to the post. Contact a supervisor in the affected area. He or she may have handled similar issues before and can help you craft a response. In some cases, you may want to send an e-mail to the person who wrote the post to get additional facts.

7.      Sympathize; consider whether to apologize.Often people who are upset simply want to know their complaint has been heard. Saying, “I’m sorry that you’re unhappy. How can I help?” can go a long way toward turning a complaint into a conversation. An apology conveys that the Society has done something wrong. If you, your supervisor, and the supervisor of the affected area agree that a mistake was made, then an apology is appropriate.

8.      Consider private communication. In many cases, the person who wrote the post will be willing to talk with you if you provide your work e-mail address. This is important to preserve privacy or to get all the facts before finding a resolution. If you and the person work out a solution, consider whether to add a post that you successfully resolved the situation.

9.      Let your group help.Frequently, other members of your social media community will spontaneously rise to the Society’s defence with counter arguments and useful information. Allow time for this to happen.

10.  Use the channel’s rules.Every social media channel—Facebook, YouTube, etc.—has rules in its Terms of Service regarding hate speech, harassment, and similar attacks. Cite these rules when you remove such posts and, if necessary, block repeat offenders.

11.  You are not alone.There are individuals within the Society and among friends of the Society who have experience with these situations. Consult them if you are in doubt in how to handle the matter.

If it appears that there is a pattern of negative responses, the Society should avoid the instigation of an orchestrated counter-attack of denial and refutation. Research has shown that such an approach is counter-productive. In its place, the Society should place online, on all of its various SM sites, a plethora of positive news and community communiqués. A substantial stream of good news will wash away and ultimately nullify the impact of a few disgruntled postings.

Specific Governance Guidelines for Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube

The procedures for governance of SM vary by site. It is important to the creation of a robust policy and implementation strategy for employees and stakeholders to understand these differences and adjust the strategy to account for these differences. In the first instance, it is essential for every Society to familiarize itself with the guidelines published by each of the major SM sites and those available online before initiating a campaign on these sites. What follows is an overview by site. Many of governance issues overlap on many SM sites. While a particular governance issue may be covered in one site, it may also apply to others as well but to a lesser degree. For each site, a general description of the platform’s capacity is added so that policy drafters are assured that they all have an equal understanding of the general functions.

Blogs:

Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Blogging is an informal approach to content creation that has evolved in response to Web users' need for a simple publishing tool providing maximum engagement with readers. Blogging is, by nature, a flexible format and there are few rules governing its use. Bloggers trigger discussions on topical issues, point to the most interesting material on a subject elsewhere on the Web, take readers behind the scenes of the Society, highlight upcoming events, and solicit questions. In addition, blogging is the easiest way to handle multimedia story-telling and some bloggers produce video blogs, also known as ‘vlogs’. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs. It is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.

Blogs pose the following governance challenges for the organization: defamation or liability to the Society; degradation of brand because of questionable entries; unforeseen consequences in politically, culturally, and religiously sensitive areas. One consequence of blogging, although relatively rare, is the possibility of attacks or threats against the blogger, sometimes without apparent reason. Two important preconditions exist for affective blogging; designation of employees and/or stakeholders eligible to have an official Society blog, and a commitment by the designated bloggers that entries will remain fresh; with at least two blogs per week. A Society blog should:

  • Be interesting. Be informative. Entice members to follow regularly.
  • Be conversational: raise questions, invite contributions, discuss what is happening on other blogs, leave some loose ends, and respond to comments made by readers.
  • Link to external sites with relevant information
  • Monitor other bloggers in the same space and attempt to build reciprocal links with them.
  • Tag posts so that they are easy for search engines to find.
  • Inject some personality into their posts and include observation and anecdote.
  • Make use of multimedia whenever possible and think about a post’s layout.
  • Credit the original source of all content embedded in posts.
  • Make sure posts are seen by a second pair of eyes before publication.
  • Ask other program directors to place a link to their blog/post on relevant stories.

A Society blog should not:

  • Be opinionated. You are free to make observations, ask questions, and make an argument, but blogging is not a license to vent personal views. You are still bound by the organization’s principles of good conduct.
  • Respond in anger to comments that appear on posts.
  • End each post with the line, ‘tell us what you think’. If you have a specific question for readers then ask it, otherwise let the comments box do the work.
  • Knowingly link to material that infringes copyright.
  • Have  personality subbed out of the posts
  • Take an idea or insight from another blogger or site without acknowledgement.

Twitter:

Twitter is a website that offers a social networking and micro blogging service, enabling its users to send and read messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the user's profile page. Tweets ask the question “what are you doing?” and are publicly visible by default; however, senders can restrict message delivery to just their followers. Users may subscribe to other users' tweets – this is known as “following” and subscribers are known as followers or tweeps. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, compatible external applications (smartphones), or by Short Message Service(SMS). As the smartphone increases its ubiquitous presence among users replacing much larger computers and notebooks as the primary personal computer, Twitter will become more significant as a SM tool.

As with blogging, the Society must designate employees and/or stakeholders who will be officially identified to represent the voice of the organization on Twitter. Whoever is designated, a commitment to regular use is necessary. The Society should choose Twitter names that identify the organization clearly. Keep labels short. Twitter may be used sometimes to post information and images of interest to the Society’s members that are not available elsewhere. Micro-blogging tends to blur the distinction between professional and personal lives: when using Twitter in a professional capacity you should aim to be personable but not to include irrelevant material about your personal life. There are several ways in which Twitter can be used in the execution of your professional duties. Twitter can be used to share timely information that is not available elsewhere online but can build up a following on mobile phones for those who enjoy being kept up to date. Additionally, it can be used to solicit reader comments that are linked to blogs to cover live events and thus increase the buzz and participation even though physical participation is impossible.

The short-form nature of Twitter means it is fast and well suited to certain tasks including the live-blogging of events. It will not always be possible or even desirable to find someone to double-check the content. Where practical you should ask someone to check content of Twitter posts. If there is no one to check then you should satisfy yourself that your posts conform to the general principles of the organization. The same rules apply as for personal blogging -- you should make it clear that you a) work for the Society; b) any views expressed do not necessarily represent those of your employer; and c) you say nothing that would damage the reputation the Society. Twitter streams will and must be reviewed by an editor – not necessarily in real time or before publication, but eventually and regularly.

Facebook:

Facebook is a social network service and as of January 2011[update], Facebook has more than 600 million active users. Users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common interest user groups, organized by workplace, school, or college, or other characteristics. Facebook allows anyone who declares themselves to be at least 13 years old to become a registered user.

There are governance issues specific to Facebook; however, these are also observable on other SM sites as well. Familiarize yourself with Facebook’s privacy agreement and settings before posting personal information (this can include information you must provide to sign up with Facebook). Facebook can host a wide variety of media for communication, whether through short and long messages (for public or private view), photographs, videos, links, apps, etc. Though the rewards can be great, Facebook can be difficult to monitor for this reason.

Flickr:

Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community. In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. In September 2010, it reported that it was hosting more than 5 billion images.[3]For mobile users, Flickr has an official app for many of the major operating systems. There are also some third party applications being introduced.

Flickr provides both private and public image storage. A user uploading an image can set privacy controls that determine who can view the image. A photo can be flagged as either public or private. Private images are visible by default only to the uploader, but they can also be marked as viewable by friends and/or family. Privacy settings also can be decided by adding photographs from a user's photo stream to a "group pool". If a group is private, all the members of that group can see the photo. If a group is public, the photo becomes public as well. Flickr also provides a "contact list" which can be used to control image access for a specific set of users. Flickr has created a "guest pass" system that allows private photos to be shared with non-Flickr members. For instance, a person could email this pass to parents who may not have an account to allow them to see the photos otherwise restricted from public view. This setting allows sets to be shared, or all photos under a certain privacy category (friends or family) to be shared. Many members allow their photos to be viewed by anyone, forming a large collaborative database of categorized photos. By default, other members can leave comments about any image they have permission to view, and in many cases can add to the list of tags associated with an image

The pivotal governance issue related to use of Flickr by the Society is that photos put up on this site will have to be reviewed prior to posting and all photos taken by the Society and chosen for release would require permission from members. This permission may at times be waived if they were taken at public events hosted by the Society; however, they become critical in all cases when minors are involved. Likewise, a governance policy for the tagging of photos (also in Facebook) will have to be developed.

YouTube:

YouTube is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, although media corporations and other organizations offer some of their material via the site, as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users may watch videos, and registered users may upload an unlimited number of videos. Videos that are considered to contain potentially offensive content are available only to registered users 18 and older.

There are several governance issues that the Society must address as it relates to the wholesale use of YouTube:

  1. Copyrighted material: YouTube has been criticized for failing to ensure that uploaded videos comply with copyright law. At the time of uploading a video, YouTube users are shown a screen with the message "Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts or advertisements without permission, unless they consist entirely of content that you created yourself".[126]Despite this advice, there are still many unauthorized clips of copyrighted material on YouTube. YouTube does not view videos before they are posted online, and it is left to copyright holders to issue a takedown notice pursuant to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Society will face criticism if use of YouTube in any of its various SM sites infringes upon the copyright laws. All users of SM will have to be alerted concerning this issue.
  2. Controversial content:YouTube has also faced criticism over the offensive content in some of its videos. The uploading of videos containing defamationpornography, and material encouraging criminal conduct is prohibited by YouTube's terms of service.  YouTube relies on its users to flag the content of videos as inappropriate, and a YouTube employee will view a flagged video to determine whether it violates the site's terms of service. However, this procedure has been criticized. YouTube responds by stating that the tiny minority of videos that break the rules come down quickly.
  3. Comments:Most videos enable users to leave comments, and these have attracted attention for the negative aspects of both their form and content. Frequently, juvenile, aggressive, misspelled, racist, sexist, and homophobic comments have been posted and it is critical to moderate the comments on the site due the increased number of such comments.

The Society has control of content and can edit all up-loads to its site prior to posting. If comments arise from any posting they can be treated using the on-line response guidelines as discussed above in this paper.

 

Professional Usage by Staff and Stakeholders

The Society should encourage approved employees, as representatives of the Society, to use social networking/media as a way to connect with customers, community, and other related parties during working hours. All employees should speak with their manager(s) before using these tools during non-work hours. Keep in mind that while social networking is fun and valuable, there are some risks one must acknowledge. In the SM world, there is often no line between what is public and private, or personal and professional. What follows is a general code of conduct and rules of engagement for professional use on behalf of the Society. These 14 points should be revisited regularly and adhered to in situations where the correct course of action is not clear. . While these questions may be intended for employees, they are applicable for all stakeholders. Stakeholders are encouraged to speak on behalf of the Society and should follow the same guidelines.

   1.      Are you using good judgment? You must behave in cyberspace as you would in any face-to-face interaction.

2.      Are you being respectful? Your goal online is to help members/community and provide assistance so they are better informed about programs they care about. The best way to accomplish this is by incorporating a positive and considerate approach every time you interact with them. Be nice and behave as if you were in your physical workplace. Be respectful when addressing sensitive subjects like lifestyle, religion, and politics.

   3.      Are you being humble?Let the performance of the Society speak instead of describing achievements and triumphs in any way that can be perceived as boastful. Focus your energy on creating a great service experience instead of talking about it. Give credit where credit is due.Always attribute when quoting someone else.

4.      Are you being transparent? Honesty—or dishonesty—will be quickly noticed in the SM environment. Whenever needed or requested, use your real name, identify that you work for/are affiliated with the Society, and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, call attention to this issue before anyone else. Transparency is about identity and the relationship between you, the Society, and the greater community.

5.      Are you being judicious?You should make sure that your efforts online do not violate the Society’s cultural, ethical, privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines for external communication. Remember that everything online is discoverable. If you would not show it to your mother or a judge, do not post it. If in doubt, ask.You should always ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to the Society. If you think it may be confidential, then treat it as such. All statements must be true and not misleading, and all claims must be substantiated and approved. Materials published online are widely accessible, so consider the content carefully. Remember that everything you publish may be saved or documented by other users and will be available to them even if you remove it.

6.      Are you writing about what you know? You must make sure you write and post about your particular areas of expertise, especially as related to the Society and its various operations. If you are writing about a topic with which Society is involved, but you are not the expert on the topic, you should make this clear to your readers. Write in the first person. If you publish to other websites that relate to your area of expertise, use a disclaimer. For example, write, "The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the Society’s positions, strategies, or opinions." Remember, you may be personally responsible for your content.

7.      Are you being a good listener? You must keep in mind that one of the biggest benefits of social media is that it gives the Society’s members/community another way to communicate with the organization—to ask questions directly and to share feedback. Always listen and respond as much as you "talk.” Nevertheless, be succinct and address others in an industrious and thoughtful manner rather than responding for the sake of doing so.

8.      Are you aware that perception is reality? In online SM, the lines between public and private, or personal and professional, are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as a Society employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and connection to all matters relating to the Society. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with the Society’s values and professional standards.

   9.      Are you making conversation? Employees should talk to their readers as they would talk to physically present people in professional situations. In other words, you should avoid being overly pedantic or using "composed" language. Do not be afraid to bring in your own personality and say what is on your mind. Consider content that is open-ended and invite response. Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are writing about the same topic and allow your content to be shared or syndicated. Be clear, but not defensive. Be polite and professional, especially when you disagree with someone.  If you find yourself working too hard to defend, take a step back, and let the community defend for you.

10.  Are you adding value? There are billions of words out there. The best way to be noticed and read is to write things that people will value. Social communication from the Society should help all stakeholders. It should be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge or skills, increase their activities and involvement in the Society, solve problems, and/or understand the Society better—then it is adding value. Question everything by asking, "How can we be more social?" The ethos of SM is to believe in sharing and linking to the best content from all over the web. A link is not an endorsement, so don’t be shy about sharing something from a “competitor” if you feel it is worthwhile to our members and stakeholders and/or friends.Never spam members of the Society.

11.  Are you creating some excitement? The goals and mandate of the Society are focused at a high level: to build a better community. The Society is trying to make a significant difference in our community and you should never lose sight of that fact when communicating. Do you have your eyes locked on the rear view mirror or are you orienting your mindset toward the future and all its possibilities?

12.  Did you screw up? You will make mistakes. If you have, you should admit to it immediately. Be sure to correct any mistakes and make it clear how you have addressed and amended it. If it is a major mistake (e.g., exposing private member or fellow employee information and/or reporting confidential Society information), let your manager know immediately so that the Society can take the proper steps to help minimize the impact it may have. A general rule to follow is: don't be afraid, but have the courage to admit and correct errors. One possible way to avoid written errors is to think of your harshest critic and what  they might say or how they may react to what you are about to publish.

13.  If it gives you pause, then pause. If you are about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don't shrug it off and hit 'send.' Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what is bothering you, then fix it. If you are still unsure, you might want to discuss it with a manager. Ultimately, what you publish is yours—as is the responsibility.

14.   Always keep learning. The SM space is fast moving and ever evolving. Read more than you write. Ask questions. Link to others and build relationships. Explore and have fun! Experiment with tools and think about how they might be used to benefit the Society and its members. Share resources, insights, opinions, and advice with your network and ask the same of them.

Personal Usage by Staff and Stakeholders

As previously stated, online social networks blur the lines between public and private, and personal and professional. Simply by identifying yourself as a Society employee or stakeholder, you are creating perceptions about your connectivity. This implies a level of responsibility. What follows are some guidelines for personal use of SM that would be applicable to any professional person who wishes to use the various sites judiciously.

1.      Divide SM between professional and private: There should be a definitive and absolutely clear distinction between your presence on the Society’s SM sites and your personal footprint. The Society does not expect all of your social media use to be work-related, but it does expect you to keep the items you share with your personal friends separate from what you share with your colleagues. You need to determine your own comfort level in discussing work in your personal communications. While personal social network accounts (e.g., Facebook) should remain personal, owners may, on occasion, be encouraged to call for actions consistent with actions being promoted by the Society. Such messages can and may be re-tooled into the voice of the owner, but not in a manner that could be construed as new Society policy.

2.      Be mindful of how you behave on all SM sites: On Social Networking sites, you should be mindful that the information you disclose does not bring the Society into disrepute. The personal use of the internet by the society’s staff must be tempered by an awareness of the potential conflicts that may arise. If you maintain your own blog or other publicly available sites, it is recommended that you include a disclaimer: “The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.”

3.      Limit the information you provide:To ensure your safety and the safety of the Society, be careful about the type and amount of personal information you provide. Avoid talking about personal schedules or situations particularly as they relate to your work at the Society. Never give out or transmit personal information of members, stakeholders, and/ or co-workers (including information such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, identification numbers, or other personal information). Don't take information you may receive through the Society’s SM Networking (such as e-mail addresses, member names, or telephone numbers) and add it to Personal SM accounts. Make sure you are aware of the privacy agreements of the websites of which you are a member: you may think information is protected and/or confidential while exposing yourself to risk unintentionally.

4.      Limit the time on personal SM sites during work hours:The amount of time you spend on SM sites during your professional time will affect your productivity. Make certain that your Facebooking, blogging, tweeting and other social networking activities will not interfere with your work commitments.

5.      Be a responsible SM netizen.Never impersonate someone else, or purposely obscure your identity. Build your own reputation.  If you don’t want others to know about it, don’t post it. Know the audience for each of your social networks. Don’t accept connections if you don’t want to allow someone into your personal space.

 

This paper discusses the potential benefits and advantages that can be incurred by a non-profit organization through the use of social media. Since non-profit societies usually attempt to promote a particular agenda or cause, these tools can be immensely useful in the distribution of information and content for the purposes of public awareness and participation in an online community. However, undisciplined or thoughtless activity online can cause undue and sometimes irreversible damage to reputations of organizations and/or individuals. It is essential to adopt general and specific guidelines as a society in engaging in the world of social media.