After our presentation at the 2013 ASAPS Conference in New York, a doctor came up to me with concern about establishing a Code of Conduct (CoC) for her team. “My world is already surrounded by rules, policies and regulation. Doesn’t a Code of Conduct just create more rules for my team? Isn’t social media supposed to be free-flowing?”
That’s a great question!
First and foremost, your Code of Conduct for social media should not be just a bunch of Do’s and Don’ts. No one likes to be restricted and told what to do. Instead, people want a framework to support their creativity and guidelines to point them in the right direction.
When done correctly, your Code of Conduct should not only represent your values but also the core values of social media: Openness, Engagement and Community. It will give your staff a set of values to rally around and to guide them in their online interactions. So as you build your CoC, don’t get caught up in creating just another set of rules. Ask yourself:
1) Does our CoC encourage openness and connection with our practice?
Social media thrives on being connected with more than just other people. It also connects your content and followers with other resources, sites, blogs and even traditional media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and even RealSelf all invest tremendous resources to remove barriers in their user experience that might prevent content from being connected to as many as people as possible.
2) Does our CoC allow people to engage with us through conversation and participation, directly or indirectly?
Successful social media encourages everyone to contribute and provide feedback. Even traditional media (like magazines and TV) realize the limitations of their one-way communication format, so they often connect their audience to social media because that’s where the conversation is taking place and they want to leverage the engagement that’s happening online.
3) Does our CoC help build a foundation of trust that allows my practice to engage and learn from the community?
Since social media spurs communities around groups of people and shared interests, your social media strategy and the principles used to execute it should not only allow you to engage with your online community but also allow you to learn from them and even ask community members for feedback.
Your Code of Conduct is an explicit message to your staff on what you value. Align those values with social media and set clear guidelines with your team to ensure your Code of Conduct goes beyond a simple set of rules.
I’ll share some best practices for a Code of Conduct in a subsequent post.