Best Practice Example: Gap’s Social Media Policy

I caught the tail end of a live Twitter chat hosted by Neville Hobson for Dell at #dellsmbchat last night. One of the questions was about social media policies,...

gap social media

gap social media

I caught the tail end of a live Twitter chat hosted by Neville Hobson for Dell at #dellsmbchat last night. One of the questions was about social media policies, so I ventured Gap’s social media policy – shown below – as a good example.

Why is it so good? Well, for starters it’s written in a frank, honest and open style. It’s not overbearing, legalistic or vague – three of the preferred qualities of badly written policies. It’s also realistic; how many staff policies in history have included a clause that starts “If you #!%#@# up…”?

So are they just being a hip clothes brand? No – I think they realise that to succeed in social media they need to harness the personality, wit, charm and, in all likelihood, free time of their staff , so they have to assert rules in a smart, positive and inclusive way. I think it’s a great example of enlightened management, but I’d welcome comments on this one.

GAP Social Media Policy

These guidelines are important—because if you don’t follow them a few things could happen: your posts can get deleted, we could lose customers and investors, we could get in trouble, or, worst of all, you could even lose your job … So do the right thing, stick to the guidelines.”

Keep in mind… 

There’s really no such thing as “delete” on the Internet, so please—think before you post. 

Some subjects can invite a flame war. Be careful discussing things where emotions run high (e.g. politics and religion) and show respect for others’ opinions. 

It’s a small world and we’re a global company. Remember that what you say can be seen by customers and employees all over the world and something you say in one country might be inaccurate or offensive in another. 

Respect other people’s stuff. Just because something’s online doesn’t mean it’s OK to copy it. 

Your job comes first. Unless you are an authorized Social Media Manager, don’t let social media affect your job performance. 

How to be the best … 

Play nice. Be respectful and considerate, no trolling, troll baiting, or flaming anybody, even our competitors. 

Be yourself. Be the first to out that you are a Gap Inc. employee—and make it clear that you are not a company spokesperson. 

If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy. 

Add value. Make sure your posts really add to the conversation. If it promotes Gap Inc.’s goals and values, supports our customers, improves or helps us sell products, or helps us do our jobs better, then you are adding value. 

Don’t even think about it…

Talking about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues, future promotional activities. 

Giving out personal information about customers or employees. 

Posting confidential or non-public information. 

Responding to an offensive or negative post by a customer. There’s no winner in that game.

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7 comments

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  2. Anton Koekemoer Reply

    Great advice and tips – Especially the “If you #!%#@# up?” , and “Add value”. In my opinion You should always be yourself online , and try to be as honest as possible as most as possible and you should make a success of your Brand or Persona’s Online Reputation. And true – Social Media is time consuming, but worth every minute!  Great post , thanks for sharing. 

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Thanks Anton. Agreed. We’ve recently used this as a model for a client policy.

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  6. Micha Rivers Reply

    I am working on a research paper highlighting Gap’s social media strategy and I think this is a straight forward policy that other companies should adopt. I’ve seen other companies have Twitter scandals and often wonder if some companies are even addressing social media use.