Reinventing the Social Media Policy: Gap’s Refreshing Approach

03.21.2012 | Monica Graham

Today, it’s a rare occasion to find companies that aren’t harnessing the power of social media. However, even though your company may not yet have a formal presence on social media platforms, it’s extremely likely that you and the majority of your colleagues and employees are active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or all of the above. With social media activity increasingly blurring professional and personal lines and creating a massive gray area around what’s public and what’s private, it’s incumbent upon business owners to have a social media policy in place, regardless of whether the company itself is active on social media platforms.

Back in April, we wrote about the importance of not only having a social media policy in place, but also training your employees on the policy to help ensure that they understand it and are using social media in a way that can help build brand awareness without inadvertently damaging the company’s reputation. Unfortunately, we’ve all too often seen what can happen to companies or high-profile individuals who experience social media blunders that go viral.

While social media policies should be clear, targeted, prescriptive, and empower your employees to be brand ambassadors, that doesn’t have to translate into materials that are long, boring and full of legalese. Gil Rudawsky of Ragan’s PR Daily, provides an interesting look at how Gap, Inc., took a refreshing approach to reinventing its social media policy for its global workforce.

Specifically, in an effort to differentiate its brand in today’s crowded marketplace, Gap is unleashing its 134,000 employees on social media to help create buzz and increase awareness. It also set forth a no-nonsense policy broken down into three categories, “Keep in mind,” “How to be the best,” and “Don’t even think about it.” While the guidelines aren’t publically posted, they were presented at a crisis communication conference and Rudawsky had the inside scoop on a few noteworthy highlights including:

Keep in Mind…

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

  • 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.

Gap’s social media policy is a great example of how companies can create a compelling, easy-to-follow set of ground rules that engages employees in real-world language rather than 20 pages of legal jargon. Not only does it keep the company’s best interest in mind, but it also empowers its employees to be brand ambassadors with clear, easy to follow guidelines.

Do you have a social media policy? What works well for you?


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Filed under: COMMUNIQUÉ PR, Positioning, Reputation Management, Social media, Strategy

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