A little while ago, I came across this photo, purportedly taken inside Kanye West’s studio in Hawaii.
On the wall behind him, Kanye’s studio rules are plainly displayed. They read:
- No tweeting
- No hipster hats
- All laptops on mute
- No blogging
- No negative blog viewing
- Don’t tell anyone anything about what we are doing
- Total focus on this project in all studios
- No hacking focus while music is being played or music is being made
- No acoustic guitars in the studio
- No pictures
- Just shut the fuck up sometimes
Although it’s anyone’s guess what Kanye has against hipster hats or acoustic guitars, the other studio rules provide a helpful framework for anyone visiting or participating in his recording project. You can be under no illusion that Kanye’s priority is the music and that he craves and demands focus on the task at hand – distractions will not be tolerated, and nor will indiscretions. Perhaps my favourite of Kanye’s studio rules is the last: “Just shut the fuck up sometimes”. These are words we could all benefit from attention to, once in a while….
As social media has become more widely used over the last few years, there’s been increasing focus on and interest in different organisations’ social media guidelines. Some are very prescriptive and limiting, requiring employees to caveat everything and/or maintain a (false) sense of neutrality in all things. Others simply say “don’t do it”.
A couple of years ago at The Guardian, I put together a dedicated intranet site (“Really Social Media” – pun intended) which contains training resources, case studies/best practice guidelines for e.g. playing nicely with Flickr, advice (on everything from Twitter ettiquette to how to spot a troll and tips on responding to critical comments), an internal directory of staff twitter IDs (personal and professional) plus guidelines for digital engagement (covering social media, blogging, commenting and so on), to be used by staff in conjunction with established company policies about internet use (we’ve had guidelines for personal blogs for a few years, now).
For the last three years, I’ve been running regular social media workshops for staff in which we talk about the opportunities & challenges of social media tools on and off our site and answer questions about them. In recent months these have been transformed from awareness sessions to “skill-sharpeners” aimed at levelling staff up in social media ninja skills.
As this is an evolving field, we regularly update the guidelines to reflect best current knowledge and to help staff navigate the changing landscape of sites/services, skills and situations.