Does your enterprise have a social media governance policy? According to TechTarget, only 1 in 7 companies have social media governance procedures in place. Exactly what is included in a social media policy, and why is it important? Social media is the new media, and it is impossible to control with firm limits. It is possible, however, to provide guidelines to empower employees and to communicate with customers and employees in a new way.
To begin with, what is included in a social media policy?
For the enterprise I recommend including a combination of the following: A corporate blogging policy, a Facebook comments policy, tweeting and personal blogger guidelines, and generic public web participation guidelines, etc. It is important to note that a policy is not about policing, but rather setting guidelines for net etiquette and corporate communication on behalf of the company.
Enterprises are already reaping the benefits of social media investments. To engage with customers, most large companies are communicating through Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Flickr, and RSS feeds. These connections humanize the company and allow relationships to develop through this new and informal way of communicating. Additionally, IT organizations are leveraging social media to connect internally with employees such as CIO blogs. Here, a CIO can share corporate information immediately and keep his/her team in-the-know of upcoming corporate strategies that affect the IT group.
Given the explosion of social media, how can IT help manage the communication experience for all stakeholders?
This is where governance takes place: developing and monitoring policies, processes, and metrics that balance risk and opportunity, and providing the framework for employee empowerment and accountability.
Guidelines to developing a Social Media Policy
1. Know your Stakeholders. Although governance may seem to fall in the hands of IT and HR, I believe an effective social media policy will include considerations from all stakeholders: public relations, marketing & sales, product & engineering, fulfillment & customer services, individual employees, and customers. Think about how each of these groups leverage and benefit from social media for the good of the enterprise.
2. Keep it Simple. To begin with, limit approval chains for posted content, and know who is responsible in the organization for social media responses. Also, maintain one cohesive social media policy for the whole enterprise versus separate policies originating from IT, HR, or other internal business groups.
3. Set Clear Guidelines for Employees. Keep in mind you have two types of employees as it specifically relates to social media: those that use social media for personal use, and those whose job in your enterprise includes social media. Ultimately you want your employees to be ambassadors of your company. Help them by setting clear guidelines. Examples include: when and where to use the corporate logo and trademarks, what information is confidential, who in the organization can officially speak on behalf of the company, etc. For social media strategies, I recommend this site.
4. Monitor the Internet and Engage your Customers. Leverage new social media governance tools such as Filtrbox, FaceTime and Socialware.
Filtrbox provides real-time social media monitoring. You can see what others are saying about your company in real-time on Twitter, social networks, blogs and thousands of online news outlets. You can listen, engage, and respond in real-time. FaceTime provides a product that monitors content posted through the corporate network to social networking sites. According to TechTarget, FaceTime can preemptively control social media by setting and banning specific keywords that users try to post on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. For quality control, users can configure the product to prevent the post, notify the user it was against policy, record the incident and alert an administrator. And Socialware introduced a cloud-based Social Middleware Platform which can filter, tag and archive posts originating from the corporate network and posted to social media sites.
Equally as important as establishing a social media governance policy is ensuring your enterprise has the technology foundation to support the many robust communication platforms enabling social media for your enterprise. The right network, clear policies, and employee engagement will be the power behind your social media strategy.