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Social Media – The Efficacy of the Corporate Guide

***Link Updated: June 2012***

In early May we published our “Cisco Social Media Policy for our employees to read, acknowledge and if applicable inculcate into their daily regime as employees of Cisco.  An internal Governance Board created this document to empower the employee’s engagement rather than harness as the employee traversed through the social media and social network landscape.  Does it answer all the questions imaginable, no, it does, however, provide the necessary guidance to allow any employee to navigate and escalate any questions which may arise during the many daily social media journeys.

Many ask, what’s inside a Cisco social media policy document and why do you have one?  As stated above, the guide is there to help employees navigate social networks, as the employee engages the many audiences present within these social networks.

At Cisco we are a community that embraces transparency, authenticity and openness.  We encourage our employees to be a part of social networks, both internal to Cisco, as well as, external to Cisco.  Our employees may use social networking sites while at work to conduct business.  Cisco does not block access to social networking sites – we believe in empowering the workforce and instilling trust in our employees to work responsibly.

We do require our employees to be transparent about who they are.  If an employee is discussing Cisco, they use their name, not an alias.  We also provide disclaimer text for both Cisco-sponsored sites and third-party sites (such as a personal blog).   We drive for our employees to make it clear to the reader that the opinions are the author’s. And our directive to our employees includes the admonishment not to share our intellectual property, our financial data, nor infringe upon the intellectual property of others.

One of the adjustments in this latest edition of the guide was to assist our employees in how they may provide “recommendations” for their LinkedIn contacts who happen to also be current or former subordinates or colleagues at Cisco.  We provided the following disclaimer:  “This reference is being made by me in a personal capacity.  It is not intended and should not be construed as a reference from Cisco Systems, Inc., or any of its affiliated entities.”

We also prepare our employee for the likelihood that not everything they write will resonate to a reader in the same manner as that of the owner.  In those instances, unless the comment is abusive, the alternative viewpoint should be embraced and the author engaged, as the value is in the constructive engagement.

This year we also enveloped the policy guidelines into the annual “Code of Business Conduct” review process so that 100 percent of our employees would be witting and knowledgeable as to the expectations of Cisco with respect to their social network engagement.

There really is no debate as to the efficacy of a corporate guide surrounding social media; you should create a guide for your employees.  And your guide must be built upon two separate foundational documents.  The “Code of Business Conduct” and “Information Security Policies.” The former discusses how each employee is expected to represent Cisco and protect its customers, partners and Cisco’s own assets and the latter spells out the means by which each employee is expected to steward Cisco’s information.  Absent such a guide, there can be no expectation that our employees would be knowledgeable of the expectations of the corporation.

Welcome your thoughts on the dynamic nature of the social media guide your company uses.

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2 Comments.


  1. This is interesting. Has Cisco’s move into people based services rather than hardware focus been part of the loss in share value?

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  2. Thanks for the article, Mr. Burgess. I found it enlightening.

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