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Common-sense wisdom in Coke’s new social media policy

Coca-Cola just released a new social media policy — and it’s full of common sense wisdom that every company can learn from. Here are my favorite parts:

  • It’s only 3 pages. A social media policy should be a addition to existing company policy–you don’t need to start from scratch.
  • Social media doesn’t change the rules of honesty. “The same rules that apply to our messaging and communications in traditional media still apply in the online social media space; simply because the development and implementation of an online social media program can be fast, easy, and inexpensive doesn’t mean that different rules apply.”
  • Have fun, but be smart. “The best advice is to approach online worlds in the same way we do the physical one — by using sound judgment and common sense.”
  • No-B.S. full disclosure. “Every Web site, “fan page”, or other online destination that is ultimately controlled by the Company must make that fact known to users… We also require bloggers and social media influencers to disclose to their readers when we’re associating with them, whether by providing them with product samples or hosting them at Company events, and we need to monitor whether they are complying with this requirement.”
  • Be conscious when mixing your business and personal lives. The Company respects the free speech rights of all of its associates, but you must remember that customers, colleagues and supervisors often have access to the online content you post. Keep this in mind when publishing information online that can be seen by more than friends and family, and know that information originally intended just for friends and family can be forwarded on.

Coke also sets 10 “Principles for Online Spokespeople” that everyone should copy:

  1. Be Certified in the Social Media Certification Program.
  2. Follow our Code of Business Conduct and all other Company policies.
  3. Be mindful that you are representing the Company.
  4. Fully disclose your affiliation with the Company.
  5. Keep records.
  6. When in doubt, do not post.
  7. Give credit where credit is due and don’t violate others’ rights.
  8. Be responsible to your work.
  9. Remember that your local posts can have global significance.
  10. Know that the Internet is permanent.

Read and study the full policy here.

Watch Coke’s social media guru Adam Brown explaining it:

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  1. Kyle Hansen January 5, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Not a bad policy for a bog company, but still too complex for me, but maybe that’s just me!

  2. karim kanji January 5, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Seems like Coke is it. :)

    I’m also excited that a huge global brand took this long to “create” a social media policy. Many social media “experts” seem to think that the ship has already left. However, I’m of the opinion that “social media” is not separate from a company’s marketing department. It is PART of marketing.


  3. Tracey Smith January 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Class act of a company so wouldn’t expect anything less than this from them!

    As another poster already said “COKE IS IT”!

  4. John Scott January 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    What’s so great about having a short policy document for anything? It just means the rules are more vague and that there is more room for misinterpretation.

    I’m not saying that Coke’s policy is bad, I’m just questioning the celebration of it consisting of three pages.

    If I was a online spokesperson for Coke then I would want a detailed document with example scenarios that really clear up any grey areas. I’d feel pretty aggrieved if I were to lose my job because I misunderstood one sentence, when a paragraph would have made things clearer.

    If “Don’t be stupid” really is one of Sun Microsystems’ social media guidelines then that is completely ridiculous.

  5. Tish Grier January 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    Not a bad start–and far better than not giving any policy then expecting employees to simply “know” how to act online. But what are they talking about with a Social Media Certification? Is this a kind of training that Coke does in-house? that’s ok, but, as far as I know, even the field of social media doesn’t have a professional certification.

  6. Jody Raines January 6, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    If your employees cannot be trusted to represent your company in the best light, should they really be working for you? Love the parameters and the simplicity.
    Bravo Coke!

  7. Erika January 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    Don’t you wonder what this “Social Media Certification” is? How can I get one?

    And wow, aren’t all those principles trailblazing, and so unique to social media.

    Including this one, I have seen three discussion or blog posts in the past hour on this Coca-Cola item, worded extremely similar. Now that’s what I call PR!


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