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.