At AHA, we followed the Domino’s issue and several others quite closely and spent a great deal of time deconstructing the challenges that are now common place because of the widespread adoption of social media.
This article is worth a read. If you don’t have a social media policy in place, it’s important to develop and implement one – no matter how big or small your organization is.
As I write this blog post, I am heading off to meet with a client that is anxious to put a social media policy in place for their organization. We have developed a first draft of the policy, set a straightforward and easy to follow process and protocol. Today, we are going to spend some time going through it and poking holes in it, ensuring that it will work for everyone in this large and diverse organization. This means meeting with a range of individuals who have their own opinions of what is a reasonable social media policy. It’s a step that I think is very important when it comes to putting a social media policy in place. It’s one thing to write a comprehensive policy, quite another to hear feedback from real people who are being asked to adopt this policy.
Many organizations have a media relations policy in place. Only assigned spokespeople have the authority to speak to the media (or other stakeholders) on behalf of the organization. This is standard in our world. However, in all the years I have been doing this, I have only ever heard of a handful of times when a journalist contacted an employee directly, rather than go to the CEO, another senior executive or the communications person. There was usually a specific reason for this approach. Social media is completely different. Staff members have personal Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. They might blog. They may comment on other blogs. There are new avenues of expression that we’ve never had before. And sometimes people forget just how public social networking sites are. Sometimes, they just need to be reminded and have guidelines and boundaries put in place. A social media policy is a good start.
When you develop yours, make sure it is a policy that is relevant for the people it is written for. Don’t assume that you know or understand the challenges they face. Develop a draft and ask them: “Does this provide accurate and appropriate guidelines for you when it comes to social media usage, relevant to your role at this organization?” This step will help develop a good social media policy.