Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Corporate Social Media: What's Your Policy?

When it comes to large corporations (and some small ones) one hand often doesn't know what the other is doing.
So it is when it comes to the use of social media.

Your company might have a social media presence and welcome any and all attention, sharing, ReTweeting, or whatever, while the company policy strictly forbids the use of social media by its employees.

You might have an entire team devoted to the use of social media marketing to promote your corporate brand, but the boss does know a Tweet from a Twerp and has never once set foot on Facebook, or even LinkedIn.

The fact is, social media is not going away. With billions of people actively using social media every month to exchange information, learn new skills and get involved in their communities a company policy preventing employees from taking part this exchange is beyond comprehension.

When a law form says it is avoiding the use of social media because they don't want to risk client confidentiality, I can almost understand it. Almost. But the fact is, even they could be using social media to promote their brand without risking the trust of their clients.

Trust. That's the key here. If you trust your employees to do the right, and surely you do or you wouldn't have hired them in the first place, then it is only logical you allow them to use social media. You trust them handling the cash drawer, handling your inventory; you trust them to steal from you, endanger their lives or the lives of their co-workers and generally not do anything which might harm your business. Why don't you trust them to use social media properly?

Some say the problem with social media is that it is too easy to make a mistake, or allow a message to go out that is not "approved by corporate." I always ask, what is stopping your employee from writing disparaging remarks about your customers on the bathroom wall? Or swearing at your customers? Or stealing inventory, cash or office supplies?

The sooner your company wakes up to the benefits of using social media and learns to overcome their fear of it, the sooner it can begin reaping the rewards that come with it.

True story: Recently, a large public company sent an email to over 20,000 employees asking them to "Like" the new corporate Facebook page. Over 5,000 employees respond almost immediately. Two weeks later, a different department of the same company sent an email with this warning: "No employee of our company is allowed to use Facebook."

Welcome to the confused state of social media in the corporation as we move into 2012. Most companies are either doing nothing to learn more about social media or they are like the example above -- the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Social media is not taken seriously and there is no strategy in place that maps social business back to core business objectives.

Why? IBM conducted a study of over 2,000 companies and asked them about the top inhibitors to adopting social media.

The study found that security, adoption, culture, and compliance are the key barriers companies are worried about. Understandable.

Click here to read more of this Huffington Post story on corporate social media.


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