Telstra lays down rules for engagement!

One of Australia’s national pastimes is Telstra bashing – and heaven knows even I’ve indulged a time or two. But still credit where credit is due. They have been engaging in social media and social networking  for a while now and I’ve come to respect their overall approach.

While I do not agree with everything Telstra does in this space, it is encouraging how (a) they have persisted with their engagement in this new fangled social media stuff; (b) they have continued to tweak their approach based on experience; and (c) management has resisted the internal forces to shut the entire venture down in the face of challenges and negative publicity.

It was amusing to watch the unfolding Fake Stephen Conroy saga – who could fail to enjoy that soap opera? However, Telstra has dusted themselves off and issued their new rules for staff online activity: How the 3Rs empower Telstra staff online. As they put it the “3Rs are good commonsense guardrails”.

As a long time advocate of plain English rules that explain to staff what is and is not allowed in respect of online participation, it is good to see Telstra taking this step.  Hopefully it will inspire other organisations to adopt some similar rules.  I suspect this new policy will require some tweaking in practice, as with all social computing perhaps it will be in perpetual beta?

For example, I’m still not sure how staff are going to manage their personal online activity when they are not permitted to “include Telstra’s logos or trademarks in your [sic] postings” – especially where Telstra is a trademark.

Does this mean that if staff are posting personally they can’t say the word “Telstra”? But all of this will work itself out in due course I suspect. Policies can really only be tested by use and this is no different to any other corporate policy (that’s what version control is for).

This continued social media activity is an admirable thing when one knows the kind of pressures faced by individuals in large and conservative organisations to deliver certainty and minimise risk.

Even though Telstra’s customer service or arcane billing systems can make me incandescent with rage it is nevertheless good to see them persist with engagement efforts rather than pulling up the drawbridge and putting crocodiles back into the corporate moat.

Here’s the pdf version of Telstra’s shiny new social media rules.


2 thoughts on “Telstra lays down rules for engagement!

  1. Hi Kate,

    You are correct in identifying that this policy will be tweaked in time.

    We are relying on our employees to share their perspectives and experiences to ensure the policy works.

    As a mediacomms company we need to participate in online conversations and communities.

    Formalising the 3Rs social media guardrails and incorporating them into our company policies was essential for us to kick start the journey.

    There is still alot more to do and alot more to learn.

    Mike Hickinbotham
    (I work at Telstra!)


  2. Oh come on. Absolutely every Telstra policy will eventually be used as another “stick” to hit their staff with. This policy will end up being another tool to gag disgruntled staff who choose, in their own time, to voice their own opinions about their work place and their employer. What about Facebook user groups like “I Hate Siebel” (Telstras expensive and totally dysfunctional billing system)? Does Telstra ‘encourage’ engagement in social media when people join groups like this?

    Telstra is the first communications company to release such a policy because it wants to be the first to sack someone for speaking out. No other reason.

    In accordance with this policy: I am a former Telstra employee. I worked for many years in a call centre for the consumer and marketing division. I was subject to many gagging attempts when I was outspoken about the company’s anti-staff and anti-customer policies. I was also subject to disciplinary action (eventually withdrawn by Telstra, only after receiving a letter from a lawyer) for my activities as a union rep.

    I see exactly where this is heading for frustrated Telstra staff members and/or active union members. Anyone who has not worked within ‘the beast’ can be forgiven for construing this as a positive step. It is not.


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