Corporate Social Media Policy
by Scott Klososky

I cannot stop myself from writing this specific message for you to because I am becoming frustrated that organizations are moving so slowly on this subject. I have been asked to speak to quite a few audiences lately about social media and how it can be used by organizations to increase sales, or to drive success in some way. I am sure that the exploding use of tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn by individuals, and the unique fact that the underlying costs of these tools is zero, is driving more interest. As are all the stories now turning up in the press of wild successes and spectacularly stupid Web social moves. The fact is that social media is a hot topic and with good reason, millions of people are starting to use these tools as a regular part of their day and an organization can benefit from learning how to have a voice in the social sphere. So here is my soapbox subject for today…

I started telling people some months ago that organizations, large and small, needed to document a policy for how they would like employees to use, leverage, and participate in social media as it concerns the organization. When I first started saying this, I was shocked that some people did not understand why a company would try to dictate standards to team members on how they would use these tools. It seemed quite obvious to me that their employees were representing the company on the Web through the use of tools like Twitter and Facebook, and writing their thoughts in blogs. These communications represent their feelings and thoughts as employees of the organization – even if they were meant to be framed personally. So there exists huge potential for the miscommunication of a companies messages – or at least a misrepresentation of the voice the company might want to use.

In addition, the organization can really benefit from using social media tools as a sales, customers service, or communication device. So why not set standards, and goals for the progress the organization would want from leveraging these tools? There is a benefit from being proactive and beating your competition by getting your customers to be attached to your social medial connections first. So there is great opportunity in learning to leverage these tools, and great danger if you do not get them under some kind of control. So…..

Why not create a written policy and standards document that defines what your organization wants to achieve from social media? Why not set goals for the number of connection, mentions, and followers you would like to achieve each month? Why not dictate what the organizational voice needs to be, and who can represent it, and how? I promise you, in a few years, it will be very normal to see a written policy on how employees can handle Facebook profiles as it concerns the organization. You will see contests running to see who can get the most Twitter followers. Companies will compete for the most mentions in the social space and proudly declare that they are the most talked about.

Creating this kind of document is both an offense, and a good defense. Don’t wait until five disasters drive you to write it. Get our in front of this trend and state clearly what you want from these tools so employees do not have to guess, or just simply make it up on their own.

Scott Klososky

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