[Edit: These guidelines have been replaced by new SAP guidelines as of November 2012 — they are not (yet?) publicly available]
SAP recently announced a new set of Social Media Participation Guidelines and an internal forum to help employees make the most of new social media channels such as Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. In the spirit of Web 2.0, and like other organizations such as Intel and IBM, we would like to share our guidelines with the community.
SAP Social Media Participation Guidelines 2009
SAP Global Communications, SAP Global Marketing
This document reflects the current guidelines as determined by SAP Global Communications, SAP Global Marketing and SAP Legal in collaboration with employees. This document is subject to modifications and amendments from time to time as required.
SOCIAL MEDIA PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES
The following guidelines describe private, individual participation in social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs, forums, YouTube, Flickr etc. for SAP employees. If your job requires you to be an SAP evangelist in social media channels and you have questions, or you want to establish social media channels on behalf of SAP or an SAP group, contact the SAP Social Media Group by sending a mail to [redacted]. For any other questions about social media at SAP, please visit the SAP-internal SAP 2.0 Community.
These guidelines are intended to assist you in your use of social media tools as an individual. Please be aware that nothing in the use of these tools changes your responsibilities and obligations as an employee of SAP. SAP and its employees are required to act ethically, and it is every employee’s obligation to review and understand SAP’s Code of Business Conduct, our communications policy, and their confidentiality obligations in other policies, such as the Security Policy.
Social media channels such as (micro) blogging, video and photo sharing, forums, virtual worlds, opinion markets and collaboration environments represent an opportunity to facilitate conversation with all of our constituents regarding the enterprise software industry and our place in it. SAP provides these social media guidelines to help employees participate within social media channels safely, and with minimum personal liability.
The SAP employee community collaborated in writing these guidelines. Specifically, a draft set of guidelines was posted on an internal SAP Wiki and SAP employees from divisions throughout the organization were invited to make comments and suggestions aimed at developing an appropriate set of guidelines.
These guidelines reflect the principles that SAP employees should follow when engaging in online communication. They are intended to provide you with an understanding of both the proper and improper uses of social computing in an effort to make your conversations and interactions as rich as possible. At all times, SAP employees must obey their local laws and adhere to local legal and ethical regulations. Nevertheless, as online communication is global in nature, other laws and regulations may also be applicable to your communication.
Please note that any direct communication to analysts, the financial market and/or members of the media must be conducted only through SAP Global Communications. The following set of guidelines only pertains to your personal statements in any online media. Please be aware that, although SAP is providing you with these guidelines, the overall and final legal responsibility for any statement made by you will reside with you personally. Therefore, you should exercise caution and thoughtfulness to statements you make online.
Setting up personal spaces in social media channels – You are free to set up any blog, space or other area within the given framework of the terms provided by the host of such spaces (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc). Please contact the SAP Social Media Group whenever you intend to use “SAP” as any part of the name or URL to avoid confusion with official SAP communication. Any personal space should have a clear disclaimer that it is not an official space of SAP. The following template may be used for this purpose:
“This [Choose. Blog, Space …] is the personal [Blog, Space …] of [Name] and only contains my personal views, thoughts and opinions. It is not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute any official communication of SAP.”
Managers and executives take note: This standard disclaimer does not by itself exempt SAP managers and executives from a special responsibility when blogging or otherwise communicating online. By virtue of their position, managers and executives must consider whether personal thoughts they publish may be misunderstood as expressing SAP positions, and a manager should assume that his or her team will read what is written. A public blog is not the appropriate medium for many types of communications, including, but not limited to: communicating SAP policies to SAP employees; negotiating with third parties; making disparaging remarks about any third party; or other communications, etc.
Write in the first person – When you contribute commentary about SAP or SAP-related matters to an external audience, it is vital that you make it clear that you are speaking only for yourself (i.e. use the first-person singular, such as “I believe…” and not “We at SAP believe…”). There are different ways to do this. A simple and accepted approach is to include a disclaimer at the very beginning of your blog. If the blog is lengthy or long-standing, you should consider repeating the disclaimer inside the message. The disclaimer should state at a minimum that your point of view is personal, and it is not an official SAP point of view. Make it simple. Make it clear.
Identify yourself – The value of social computing is diminished when people hide behind a pseudonym or an anonymous post. Trust is hard enough to establish and maintain over the Internet, and if you do not identify yourself, then do not be surprised if your well-considered contributions are brushed aside. Therefore, please identify yourself to provide additional authenticity to your online contributions.
Be Honest – Tell the truth and if you find you have made a mistake, issue a clarification or a withdrawal or whatever may suit the circumstance and make it abundantly clear that you have done so. Social computing is a tolerant neighborhood – mistakes and errors will not make you a social outcast if you take responsibility. Rather than editing your content once it has been published, find ways to make your corrections transparent.
Be Respectful – simply carry the professionalism norms and standards of any SAP office onto the social computing platforms.
Separate Opinions from Facts – and make sure your audience can see the difference.
Add Value – be informative and interesting. Contribute your thoughts, experiences, observations, and opinions regarding issues you know and care about, but make sure to check your facts and figures – if you don’t, someone else probably will.
Be Engaged and Be Informed – Read the contributions of others. Know what the current conversations are and what people are saying in order to see if, and how, you may be able to contribute a new perspective. Participation is the fuel of social computing. And remember…
Aim for Quality, not Quantity – Offer your contribution with context whenever you can. Provide links to other blogs, media articles or whatever sources you think are necessary. Make your content rich and interesting for others to read. Consider attaching documents when necessary (but not SAP internal documents, confidential or not, of course!). And in every case, keep the language simple and flowing. If you start a blog, encourage feedback and conversation – make sure your readers can add feedback to your blog and respond in a timely manner. A two-way communication exchange allows for a more meaningful conversation.
Don’t Pick Fights – When you see misrepresentations or patently false statements about SAP by bloggers, the media, analysts or anyone else for that matter, you may certainly address these misrepresentations, even by joining someone else’s conversation. But stick to the facts and make sure the facts you rely on are publicly available.
Protect Your Privacy – Never disclose personal information.
Remember that you are still an SAP employee – do not make false, misleading or detrimental statements about SAP or SAP products. Consider that, although you are writing a personal blog, your statements will be considered an indication of the internal proceedings in SAP and how the company and our products are seen internally.
How to Handle Media Inquiries – Your contributions to social computing and the online conversations around SAP products, solutions, and practices will help advance dialogue, maybe solve some problems, create awareness and possibly attract attention of all kinds, including the media. If a member of the media contacts you, simply notify the Media Relations team in Global Communications via firstname.lastname@example.org. They will determine the best way to handle the inquiry.
Legal Considerations – Yes, you have legal responsibilities and they need to be considered. You must respect copyrights and other intellectual property, fair use and financial disclosure laws, and SAP deals in general. Remember the following – do NOT talk about: perceived product defects or deficits; revenue projections; future product launch details; acquisition targets yet to be defined, or disclose corporate topics, product roadmaps, customer wins, our relationship to customers or partners or any other material SAP internal information. Do not post materials from SAP partners or customers in your communication (whether marked as confidential or not) or otherwise make information public that you have received through interaction with customers or partners. Use your common sense, and when in doubt contact the SAP Social Media Group.
Social Computing and Your Primary Role – Active contribution to social computing in its many forms can be time-consuming, so it is important that this does not interfere with your role at SAP. If you find that your social computing activity interferes with your role at SAP, please speak with your manager to determine if your personal contributions can become official SAP communications in alignment with SAP Global Communications as part of your job. If your manager and SAP Global Communication determines that it is not possible to incorporate your social computing activity into your role at SAP, you should reduce your involvement in social computing and consider posting a statement that explains why you are reducing your online activity.