If you don’t have a plan for your organisation on Social Media, Social Media will hijack your organisation’s reputation. While blogging on corporate social networking, I realised that great examples to follow, start with the ground rules.
Here’s why: The 2010 Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index polled over 2,222 IT professionals from 109 countries, and found that executives and professionals use social media and mobile technology to solve problems, stay current, and collaborate with peers on topical issues that affect decision making.
The survey results are revealing:
- Social media represents 45% of total media consumption among IT professionals (compared to 29% for editorial and 26% for vendor content).
- Among IT professionals, respondents consumed social media at a rate of 5.86 hours per week, versus 3.81 for editorial content and 3.41 for vendor content.
- More than 55% of IT professionals use social media to make better decisions based on insights from like-minded professionals.
- More than 53% of IT professionals state that their company does not have a social media policy or they are unsure if one exists.
so here goes my take on creating an effective social media policy:
1. Social media governance: Governance is crucial for a business in its working and the same philosophy of Corporate Governance can be leveraged to make the most of the ongoing social media revolution. Remember, just as regulated use of social media can and does boost visibility as in the case of Coca- cola, per user revenue as in Starbucks and volumes as in the case of Dell, unregulated usage can be disruptive for any workplace and thereby hurt prospects.
2. Define your social media policy: Its NOT rocket science, put it in simple words. A social media policy should define the action plan with achievables and goals for the organisation, which are clearly demarked and responsibilities for action and oversight communicated and understood. Also have DO’s and DONT’s in place to manage potential risks and gain the maximum advantage out of social media. Twitter and Facebook, the most commonly used social media tools for employees ( LinkedIn is professional networking) in any organisation can be beneficial, and if not, compliance to a social media policy can negate the business advantages of such tools.
3. Identify your social media champions: So what if you’re into plumbing equipment, or crane rentals, your organisation will need in addition to an effective policy, a team or a designated person who is responsible for executing on strategy and compliance with guidelines. No you don’t have to hire a new person, but make sure whoever you designate has the following:
A. Training to handle social media challenges and issues.
B. Ability to comment on any emerging issue and topic relevant to your business/ field. Read, access to senior-level decision making, or an insider in the CEO’s office.
C. Personal commitment to adding value. These are people who are willing to go the extra mile to safeguard and promote your organisation’s reputation, because they do believe in the organisation.
4. Align with your business needs: complaint 1- My employees are spending way too much time on Facebook and Twitter. complaint 2- I find business’ proprietary information floating on social networks without approval. Find the key triggers, and behaviours you want to work on. Remember, stopping access to social media from office networks does little in this age of mobile access. Most smartphones today have built-in social media, and networking apps.
5. Engage and enforce: Remember, all rules need to be enforced, but the rules have to be commonly understood and agred upon to get widespread acceptance.
- Communicate Employee Restrictions – Better still, make sure you have a group of employees in the design of the restrictions and enforcement. Peer review is much better respected, than diktats from the top. What you don’t want is a de-motivated workforce who could be your best brand ambassadors and brand custodians instead.
- Enforce with conviction– If you have an effective policy in place, an oversight committee built around key constituents, you should not have a problem with following a zero- tolerance practice. Most organisations have evolved similar rules in HR, even though a lot start looking like Dilbert’s World. And that brings me to the next point.
- Periodic Reviews – Social Media is a dynamic world. With the evolution of technology, the communications construct, and its business context, change is rapid. So, a huge number of effective social media policies and their implementation becomes archaic or draconian without frequent reviews.
Why does my organisation need an effective social media policy?
As the study above suggests, social media is here to stay, and unless your organisation wakes up to effectively riding the change, managing it later, maybe much, more expensive. Here are a few reasons, organisations find it meaningful.
- Manages your reputation – Social Media is not just for promotions, its also for customer service, and protecting your organisation from harmful rumors and rumor-mongers. If you don’t act, you will be forced to react.
- Brings analytics into focus – That’s correct! social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook throw up data which can have very powerful analytics. A well-defined social media policy + strict adherence is a wonderful tool to know how well or how poorly your business is doing in its social media efforts.
- Addresses Key Stakeholders – An effective social media policy addresses key stakeholders for any organisation – investors, employees and customers.
Have you developed your social media policy for your organisation? are you creating or updating it now? would love to hear more from you on how you are going about it.