Social Media has become part of the user community several years ago. Today we have social media in the corporate environment. The main problem we have is how social media has evolved. It has been a bottom up approach. By bottom up I mean that the consumer has determined how to use a technology and the corporation is playing catch up. But the social norms that are appropriate for a consumer “product” are not appropriate in a corporate environment.
Social media usage is being retrofitted into the corporate environment. But the consumer is already used to using social media in an insecure, “information must be free” manner. Employees who have been used to giving up all their information in places such as Facebook and Twitter must now be retrained to use social media in a whole different manner to meet corporate standards. (Assuming we have a corporate standard for social media security)
But what is a corporate standard for using social media in an appropriate fashion that does not put the company at risk? Corporations have not made a concerted effort to define that secure social media strategy, or even a strategy for training their employees in the “correct” use of social media.
What is a good starting point for implementing a social media policy? Here is a basic guideline.
1) Define a policy – You cannot assume employees will do the right thing without guidance. You already have things like Expense Policies, Acceptable Use Policies, Internet Use Policies. Write a basic guideline. What’s in that guideline will vary from company to company.
2) Information Classification – You have to explicitly define what information can be shared and what information should not be Tweeted, FaceBooked, BlibbedBlabbaded (I made that up)about. If your employees do not know how valuable information is that you cannot blame them for inadvertently being sucked into the blogosphere. (I am not sure blogosphere is yet a word, but who cares)
3) Keep It professional – If you allow your employees to Socialize (that a word with any meaning here?) information about your company, you have to give them standards to follow. Things like cursing, grammar mistakes, casual conversation style discussions might not be the image you want to portray when discussing anything related to your company.
4) Tracking and Monitoring – If you are going to have a policy for anything, you have to have a mechanism for tracking compliance, reporting on activity and have consequences for breaking that policy. How much tweets that are over the line makes you bring an employee before HR? What is a firing Facebook picture offense?
This is a very abbreviated start. In later posts I will define more aspects of a social media policy. But let’s get the conversation started about the necessity for this as a standard policy in every organization, both large and small.