According to this report by Grant Thornton, which surveyed 141 public and private companies, social media is the proverbial double-edged sword: It offers both opportunities and risks. Social media cuts across many areas of a company, therefore any policy surrounding it should be the result of a multidisciplinary approach. [...]
Key survey findings include the following:
- Almost half (48%) of the senior financial executives who responded to the survey feel that social media will be an important component of corporate marketing efforts going forward.
- More than half (53%) of respondents see corporate use of social media increasing significantly over the next 12 months.
- More than three-quarters (76%) of respondent companies do not have a clearly defined social media policy.
- More than half (61%) of respondents indicated their organizations do not have an incident management
plan to help them deal with instances of fraud and/or privacy breaches.
Now, I personally don’t think 141 companies is reflective of anything. I’m less interested in the data than I am in the idea – which we’re all familiar with – that building a social media presence involves some risk, and that that risk is not necessarily being mitigated by everyone in the same way. In Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World, we have a whole chapter on how to be courageous – which is not getting rid of fear (which is impossible) – but how to act in the face of fear.
Having a good set of social media policies is one way to do just that – to empower employees to act. Policies are about empowering action, not about stopping it. (More on that here. This white paper was written for associations, but provides valuable information for anyone needing a template and some advice on how to think about writing policies.)
In my work with many organizations, the lack of social media policies was a hurdle we had to push through before we could even get started with the work of social media management. This was true from both the management side and the employee side. Managers worried about having policies to make sure their staff would not do anything bad, but staff were equally worried about not knowing exactly how to navigate things like the blurring boundary between their personal and professional personas online. But once we had our policies in place? Bam! They were off and running and doing great things using social media.