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This post originally appeared on my company blog, where I write more about social media in general. On this blog, I throw it in from time to time but focus more on online communities. I thought this would be of interest to my regular readers here as well.

I am fascinated by social media guidelines. The whole process of getting the stakeholders around the table to discuss strategies for creating a document that usually makes employees cringe or rejoice is a challenge I welcome. The conversations that ensue are thrilling, and the fears that are uncovered can be real and raw.

The social media purists might say that the fears are unjustified, and in some cases they may be. But I can’t tell my four-year-old that her fears of a monster coming out of her closet while she’s asleep are unjustified when they are real to her.

What I can do is discuss her fears, try to understand the root of those fears and work to understand her pain point so that I can make it better by talking her through it.

I spent some time reading through the BBC’s new social networking policy today and their fears are evident. But there’s nothing wrong with that. They’ve clearly identified those fears, thought through the process and put together a document that will guide employees on how they should conduct themselves across social networks.

I am sure there will be critical blog posts about this new policy. Remember the shredding ESPN received across the twitterverse and blogoshpere when it released its social media guidelines last year? They even issued a response to the criticism.

But back to the BBC….One thing I found very interesting is what they call their “Linking Strategy, which states that links should be editorially justifiable. I agree with that as a former news manager. They have their credibility to protect and what they’re saying is if they’re going to provide a link, it needs to make sense and add value to the content.

I also found another passage rather interesting. It characterizes on-air mentions of social networks. It seems that the BBC won’t go on and on about their Twitter accounts or their Facebook pages without good reason, like CNN does.

(This is not to bash CNN but there is a constant scroll of twitter handles on the bottom of the screen, and Rick Sanchez lives by Twitter on his news program.)

So they’ve put a lot of thought into what level of importance social media will play in their editorial content, and that should be applauded. I think that employers owe their employees guidance in this area.

Does your company have social media guidelines? And what do those guidelines say about the company?

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If you haven’t heard by now, I started a new job this week. Tomorrow is Day 4 and I am 100% sure that I made the right decision. It is already challenging and the people seem like a wonderful, creative bunch.

I’ve already started blogging on the company blog and have  written  two posts  that I’d like to share with you.

The first is: Intelligence through Social Media. In it, I discuss the benefits of monitoring your competition in addition to your own brand online.

And the second gives a bit of insight on my thoughts on a new study that details exactly what makes online content, particularly New York Times stories go viral. It’s an interesting study and if you haven’t already read it, you should. Here’s a post from The New York Times and another from Gawker.

If you have a few moments, give them a read.

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Have you ever wondered how some members of your online community (or any community for that matter) can get so overwhelmingly caught up in online drama with people they hardly know?  I know I have. Well, there could be a real, clinical reason behind it, according to a new study, that goes beyond them needing to “get a life.”

Psychologists from Leeds University say they’ve found “striking” evidence that some avid internet users develop compulsive  habits in which they replace real-life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites.

The lead author of the study wrote in the the journal of Psychopathology that the study “reinforces the public speculation that over-engaging in websites that serve to replace normal social function might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction.”

WOW, THAT EXPLAINS A LOT.

What the study didn’t glean is which comes first: excessive internet use or depression. In other words… are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?”

Here is one more interesting quote I just have to share:

“While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send emails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities.”

This is a really interesting study. Read more about it here in Science Daily, and come back and tell me what you think.Oh, you can also read the complete abstract with methodology and other pertinent information at Psychopathology.

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I have two days left as the community manager of a site that has been at the core of my professional existence for nearly three years. I am trying to detach because it’s the right thing to do but it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Many of you may have already experienced this. Perhaps you launched a community and moved on and you  understand what I’m going through.  Others may not have done this yet but know that you will someday leave your community behind for something bigger and better, or simply less stressful.

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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