A Lawyer’s Take on Dell’s Social Media Policy

Note from Lionel: Below is a post from Ryan Garcia. He’s the lawyer responsible for looking after our social media efforts. We’re lucky to have him… I say that because he’s a lawyer that gets social media, a tech geek and he’s funny to boot. You’ll being hearing from him on more Direct2Dell posts down the road, but if you’re interested in social media and the law I’d recommend that you follow him. He’s  @SoMeDellLawyer on Twitter and here on Google+.


It’s a common dilemma for policy writers as well: you want to create something that’s understandable, comprehensive, memorable, and enforceable.  An incredibly tricky combination.

Dell Social Media Policy buttonDell unveiled its revamped social media policy back in August. One of our clear goals in doing so was to make the policy as clear as possible. We wanted to make it easy for employees and customers to understand it, remember it, and to share it with others. The older version of the policy did a good job communicating the same concepts, but we worked to make it shorter, more conversational, and align with our five social media principles.

One easy way to see the difference is to look at the before and after Word Clouds from Wordle.net. Click on either image to see a larger version of it. Here's the before:

Word cloud of Dell's 2010 social media policy

and here's the after:

Word cloud of Dell's 2011 social media policy

In addition to simplifying the policy, we focused on aligning it with our five social media principles—a strategy that seems to be resonating with our employees. Thousands of Dell employees have taken several social media courses taught by Dell’s Social Media and Communities University (SMaC U) team, and the class about Dell’s policy is the one that most people start with.

Beyond that, I saw recent external validation in the form of a recent Forbes.com article from Kashmir Hill. In her article, she raised the question as to who owns a Twitter account (a topic that came up in the process of revamping the policy). Kashmir reached out to a lawyer in Boston whose practice includes social media and employment matters. I was excited to see that the lawyer called out Dell’s social media policy as forward-thinking in addressing social media account ownership. And I was also pumped that Kashmir quoted an entire section of our policy. She didn’t need to translate our policy or explain it, she just quoted it verbatim. That to me is a good indication we’re on the right track.

If you want to check it out go to Dell.com/socialmediapolicy. We’re always focused on how we can move things forward. If you have ideas on how to improve our policy or have other companies’ examples of social media policies you think are noteworthy, let us know in the comments below.

About the Author: Ryan Garcia