Having a social media policy makes a lot of sense. A social media policy encourages social media usage as well as encourages conduct that is beneficial for the organization. What are the prime reasons for having a policy?
Would you have a telephone policy in place if more than half of your employees would talk during business hours on their business phones to their friends overseas? Duh.
And in this telephone policy, would you consider getting rid of the telephone altogether? Mmm, probably not.
Roughly 3/4 of employees that have an account on a personal social network access it on working hours. The same holds for twitter. Al that time spent is not being spent for the benefit of the organization paying for the time. It’s really that simple. There are tons of excuses employees come up with for making their personal time really valuable for the company. Don’t fall for it. Power naps are also really good for productivity. Get a grip.
On the other hand, “People who do surf the Internet for fun at work – within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office – are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t,” according to Dr Brent Coker, from the Melbourne Department of Management and Marketing. Whatever you decide or believe, it makes sense to limit it.
Customer centric business objectives
Using social media and networks make a lot of sense. Your customers are spending more time on social networks than anywhere else. Even when they’re supposed to be working. They talk about your brand, organisation, services, etc. Actually, you should integrate the use of social networks and media in a lot of your business functions – just as any other communication tool. A policy should clarify in what way these tools can be used and stimulate it so that they serve the company and its objectives best.
It’ scary: all those employees functioning as corporate spokespersons. That must go wrong sometime. AND IT DOES. No very different from that email with an attachment that should not be there. Or the boss-bashing on a party. Nothing new here, but only the scale and visibility has increased. And it’s not just the employees that are ‘ignorant’ – it’s also the pr-communication folks. Really funny what they come up with. Take Nestle on facebook: “… we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic – they will be deleted.“. That triggered a lot of feedback. Even the topic ‘Favorit Nestle product’ triggers posts about genetic modification, use of palm oil destroying the habitat of orang utans etc. Lot of fun stuff too: “like anything with Palm Oil in it. I don’t care about monkeys either..if they tasted good I would eat them too!”. Even a post of a loyal Nestle user complaining about his favorite product not being available anymore does not get a response. Nestle has succeeded in building a branded platform for people not liking (hating) nestle. Thank g*d, the logo’s are safe!
… and heaven
On the other side, social media have viral power built in. If I ‘Like’ something, all of my friends see what I like and may start liking it. A retweet is informing my followers. If I digg something, I inform the world. The virility of social media is built in. You need to understand how it works in order to use it. Not just the functionality, but also the characteristics. For example, research shows that tweets that share information (e.g. contain hyperlinks to informative posts, videos, images) are creating a dense retweet network as apposed to the sparse retweet network that tweets create containing a call for action, crowdsource or attempt to make a collective group identity. Besides understanding functionality and characteristics, you need to be creative in order to use it successfully. What you do needs to be really funny, cool, worthwhile, beautiful, etc, on-brand and leading to the desired experience and behavior. Not easy being creative! The old 15/85 ratio of creative versus media is not valid – in social it’s (almost) 100/0: reaching your audience is virtually free, all the money goes to the creative. That’s good news for your clients – there’s too much advertising out there that was created after the budget was spent on media.
So, what do I like?
Brand & values. What are the brand and core values and what do they mean with respect to social media? Every interaction is a brand experience – and a communication policy should make clear what the brand and values mean in the specific case. For example: “Transparancy in every social media engagement. The Company does not condone manipulating the social media flow by creating “fake” destinations and posts designed to mislead followers and control a conversation” (taken from the Online Social Media Principles of the Coca Cola Company).
Clarity about what is exceptable and what not. About the use of personal social networks during working hours. About privacy, sensitive and proprietary information etc. About the fact that some roles in a company have a higher visibility that impact social network activity outside the working place.
Constructive tips in the policy for everyone and build competencies. Teach your B2B sales how to get going with linkedin. Or your marketing people how to monitor conversations effectively and act on it. Your product development people to involve the ‘heavy users’.
Check out these resources:
for inspiration: http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php?f=0
for quickly getting one if your boss read this post and wants a policy a now: http://socialmedia.policytool.net/
the top-10 things you should cover: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=875 or http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/
communication guidelines: http://www.brasstackthinking.com/2009/01/elements-of-web-20-communication-guidelines/