There Are More Rules to Social Media Than Life

It’s no secret that we live in a media driven society, particularly social media driven. Generally speaking, as a society we have become increasingly impatient and we want information disseminated across all platforms as quickly as possible. With that, companies and institutions have this constant pressure to please their publics with quick, interesting and relevant information.

After a few social media fails within the past few years, we have all seen what that pressure can lead to.

The Social Media Governance website is an extremely beneficial tool in order to gain a better understanding of how a variety of companies, agencies, and even educational institutions manage their social media policies.

I compared Kansas State University (KState) and Coca-Cola’s social media guidelines with one another, and although I did not find the results to be very surprising, I definitely thought the differences were worth addressing.

Coca-Cola   VS.    KSU-logo-PMS-268

As I initially scrolled through both websites, it did not take me long to realize how detailed Coca-Cola’s was compared to KState’s…honestly, probably double in length.

Even though I was tempted to contribute to the laziness of our society and skim through most of the paragraphs on both sites, I actually paid a decent amount of attention to each paragraph…key word: decent.

With that said, even through my “decent” reading, it was very clear how much more restricting Coca-Cola is regarding employee’s online communication.

This didn’t surprise me though.

Obviously, Coca-Cola is a massive company, so any minor mistake throws off their entire reputation…including a single tweet. When working for a company like Coca-Cola, your personal social media is just as much of a representation of the company as your professional involvement is. Even if you may not be Coca-Cola’s online spokesperson, you have to act like one, and abide by all of the rules that the assigned online spokesperson does.

With KState, after reviewing their guidelines (notice that I said guidelines and not principles, which is how Coca-Cola refers to them), as an education institution, they take a more relaxed approach.

Now, of course KState recognizes that they too have a significant reputation on the line as a university, but because of their role as an educational institution, they encourage students and faculty to have a voice within the University.

That said, they are not telling their online users what to say, what not to say, how to say it, what to look for; they simply remind them of the ground rules when using social media, all while maintaining a positive reputation for KState.

When representing any company, agency or institution through social media, you always have to be extremely careful; it’s imperative to know who you work, what they stand for and what regulations they have in place.

If you’re working for extremely large, respected companies or agencies, such as Coca-Cola, you may want to leave any online communication up to the online spokesperson, while educational institutions employees or students should use the lack of restrictions regarding the online communication to their advantage.



  1. chezneypeel · April 4, 2016

    Interesting comparison! With the influence of social media growing at such a rapid rate, I would not be surprised to see educational institutions stepping up their “guidelines” within the next 10 years. One offensive post, or even a neutral post that one group in society chooses to twist to be shown in a negative light, can be detrimental to a university’s reputation. Do you feel that all these principles/guidelines for social media users affiliated with a company or academic institution say anything about our world as a whole? Is our skin becoming too thin that we cannot handle people sharing their differing opinions anymore? Or is social media just not the place to share controversial opinions?


    • Molly Gaughan · April 8, 2016

      Thank you for your questions, Chezney! Honestly, I think that all of the guidelines that are in place for certain organizations/companies/agencies/institutions say a whole lot about our world, especially as these guidelines continue to become more restricting. I, personally, don’t think that our skin is becoming too thin; I think that technology is growing at such a rapid pace and has, unfortunately, hurt many organizations and their reputations, that organizations continue to learn from others mistakes, resulting in these guidelines/principles increasing in size and seriousness.


  2. carolyncollins2015 · April 7, 2016

    It is so true that companies constantly feel pressure to provide information to the public as soon as possible and sometimes it doesn’t work in their favor. I think the comparison of Kansas State to Coca Cola is very interesting. They are very different so I think it’s a given they will have different standards, but I think its interesting to look at how the size of a corporation can change rules!


  3. Stephanie Z · April 20, 2016

    Great blog post! It’s understandable that Coca-Cola has an in depth social media policy. My sister’s fiancee is a supply chain manager for Coca-Cola and he said he doesn’t even bother with social media because their policy is so extensive he doesn’t want to mess with it. Obviously, Coca-Cola and Kansas State both have things at stake like their reputation, stocks and admission/application rates. It’s interesting that Kansas State doesn’t have a more in depth policy for employees.


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