A 360 degree look at Social Media Policy
To tweet or not to tweet? That seems to be the question in a lot of organizations today. It's certainly top-of-mind for web, communications and IT managers, and increasingly we're hearing from privacy, ethics, HR and legal counsel as well. Everyone wants to know how to govern social media in the enterprise.
Our view on social media (as well as any web-related policy) is to take a holistic approach. Social media can have a broad impact on an organization, and as managers you have to look at the potential risk from every angle.
A global studyconducted by Purdue University for McAfee found that 60% of companieshave suffered damage to their reputation due to inappropriate social media use. Good policy protects the interests of the organization and provides boundaries for employee behaviors. As you develop your policy, make sure your organization's social media position is clear and set expectations for what is appropriate. For example, CNN has a social media policy in place, and earlier this year the Middle East Affairs editor lost her job for a Twitter violation.
An effective social media policy starts with taking a look at all corporate policy. Communications and IT concerns are vital, but there are several other aspects of social media that create exposure. Here are some policies that should be considered to give you a 360 degree view of social media risk:
- Security policy - for IT systems and data
- Intellectual property policy - for protecting confidential and copyrighted materials
- Records management policy - for e-discovery
- Contracting policy - for terms of service agreements
- Employee policy - for personal conduct
- Communications policy - for official spokespersons
- Accessibility - for employees and audiences with disabilities
As an overall best practice, I recommend getting input from stakeholders across your organization to make sure you get a complete view of social media risks.
Each industry and organization has its own set of policy needs when it comes to social media. For those of you in the Federal sector, I'll be conducting a one-day workshop this November on social media policy. We'll spend the day discussing rules that impact social media use for government agencies and how to ensure your policy is in compliance.
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