Facebook: Upside comes with anxieties
“Is it necessary or even fair to put a social media policy in place for my staff? I am concerned they might be saying things on Facebook or Twitter — either at work or on their own time — that could be damaging to the company. Do other companies do this?”
We realize, as do our clients, that the emerging online social media networks are changing how both companies and their staff communicate, and that developing an upfront set of guidelines offers up a practical way to both manage and monitor that social engagement.
We have always counselled our clients to establish practical, reasonable and enforceable guidelines by which their employees can conduct themselves in those online social media networks in both their own unofficial and official capacity — and they know that we monitor those networks daily.
A very large part of that set of guidelines is the “buy-in” by a client’s senior management on what constitutes such social media engagement and how to set up a strategy to capitalize on the same while offering up practical guidance for its staff members.
And lastly, we always ensure the client firm asks its staff to share their expertise within those company guidelines regarding privacy, confidentiality and compliance to earn management’s recognition for the outstanding use of social media for business.
Jim Rudnick is a successful entrepreneur (CEO at KKT Interactive) and an avid blogger (canuckseo.com) who helps Hamilton-area companies with SEO, business models and client acquisitions.
Social media management is a new area of business administration that affects the whole organization’s brand, reputation and communications.
Internally, employees sharing personal and professional information via social media can have a serious effect on workplace climate, as well as employee and organizational effectiveness.
If used effectively, social media can improve employee relationships, job satisfaction, loyalty and productivity. It’s important to note that a thoughtful social media policy can ensure fairness and safe access to popular and empowering sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Externally, social media can affect how an organization is perceived by its stakeholders. Social media can also be a source of intel for competitors if there is no policy around protecting an organization’s intellectual property, strategy and planning.
Having a reasonable social media policy based on well-established communications management principles is an effective way of turning these possible pitfalls into advantages for an organization. That makes it an absolute must for every organization, public, private or not-for-profit.
Alex Sévigny is director of the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management Program (mcm.mcmaster.ca) at McMaster University.