Four Types of Social Media Policies

Four Types of Social Media Policies

By David M. Nour
In talking with several companies lately, the conversation has centered on the need for a social media policy. Whether you work for a progressive organization or a conservative, risk-adverse one, it seems that everyone has an opinion on the best approach. Here are some prevailing camps:
1. The Ostrich Look-A-Likes – “I’m on Facebook to keep up with my teenage daughter; it has no relevance to our business, and it’s going to go away soon enough. Besides, bandwidth, viruses and time-wasting are all good reasons for us to block complete access to any and all of it from our company.”

Seriously? You don’t think employees are getting online with their smart phones, personal laptops, or around the corner at the coffee shop? Here is one of my favorites: a local, well-recognized brand that promotes a payment application they’ve developed on Facebook, blocks access to Facebook for its employees!

If you are locking it down because you don’t want your employees to participate and adversely affect on your brand marketing, you’re right to do so. It is working, but probably not in the manner you intend when your biggest competitor allows its employees to engage with the market using social media, and is lowering their cost of customer acquisition and retention in the process.

2. Generic Find & Replacers – “Just give me someone else’s social media policy, and I’ll replace their company name with mine.” How’s that working for you on HR forms, supplier contracts and other documents which clearly define your unique organization, culture, and relationships critical to your success? Here is a website just for you: It currently has 120+ different organizations to choose from.

3. Bureaucratic Wordsmithers – “We need to wordsmith this document as it is part of our policy.” The only thing I think about when I hear this one is the mid-90s version of the company “Mission Statement,” where it took the entire organization countless 12-hour debates in fifteen conference rooms over a six-month timeframe to replace “A” with “The!” Power doesn’t corrupt – powerlessness corrupts! Focus on a plain English version, which succinctly captures intent and direction, and work with social media law experts to “legalize it.”

4. Agile Landscapers – “We understand that social media opens a whole new can of worms for our organization. We really need a strategic approach to developing our social media engagement program, as the very ‘squishy’ nature of social engagement lends itself to potential judgment calls on behalf of our organization.”

These leaders are really smart, because they get that the 20-somethings (and yes even sometime the 30-somethings) in the organization need to understand that personal actions online reflect the corporate image. What you say and do online will either enhance or dilute your reputation and thus people’s perception of you!

You will have problems if you fall into the first three camps. But if you’re savvy enough to understand that this is the wild, wild west and that a “track and trust” culture will get you a lot further than the prevailing “command and control” version, then you are on the right track!

David Nour is a social networking strategist and one of the foremost thought leaders on the quantifiable value of business relationships. In a global economy that is becoming increasingly disconnected, David and his team are solving global client challenges with Strategic Relationship Planning? and Enterprise Social Networking best practices.
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