Play by the rules
Does your company have a social networking policy? Results from my recent poll suggests not. (Tangent – check out the results) Waiting for an incident to define the expectations of your company could be an expensive exercise. So if you are active in the world of Web 2.0 either personally or professionally, get proactive and call for a clear code of conduct and understand your boundaries.
I’m amazed at how many people don’t realise that their company pays for an internet connection much the same as a residential package. All plans punish excess usage, whether it be by throttling the download speed or charging through the nose.
Social media applications can be usage intensive. Whether you’re streaming, downloading, uploading or constantly refreshing; it all adds up. Your IT department should be included in the process of developing a social networking policy to minimise any effect on business critical services or the IT budget. They also need to consider security so don’t be surprised if you don’t get admin privileges on your computer.
Integrating social media into a business environment can be beneficial but not if it impacts on the delivery, security and cost of your core business.
Creating a fair social networking policy isn’t all about getting quality Facebook time. The policy needs to clarify if social networking is acceptable during work hours and indicate what is suitable and excessive use. You may decide that only business related activities are allowed during work hours in which case this needs to be clearly communicated to all. Nick the account manager needs to understand that just because he saw Julie from marketing on You Tube, it doesn’t mean that he’s got the green light to play around.
It’s not that easy to be anonymous on the internet anymore. Regular conversations reveal more about you then you probably realise so even though you have a funky, ambiguous name for your Twitter profile, think about how you’ve alluded to where you work, live, what you drive, your favourite tv show, your marital status … If someone knows you in real life it’s not going to take long before they piece the clues together.
This means that what you say can have an impact on your reputation and your company’s reputation. And your future employer’s reputation. A social networking policy should clarify who is responsible for speaking on behalf of the company in all mediums. Explain and provide examples of what can be considered as speaking on behalf of the company. Make sure that the policy references the confidentiality and data disclosure policies and take the opportunity to remind staff what constitutes a breach of privacy.
Clear as mud
As with all policies, make sure that the expectations (and the consequences) are clear to every member of staff. This should also extend to the rollout of the policy. A few respondents in my poll selected that they hadn’t thought to look for a policy because they didn’t see how it affected their personal usage of social networks. Take the time to explain to your staff why such a policy is necessary and that it is protecting both the company and the individual.
Ensure all those who are permitted to blog, comment, collaborate, discuss or otherwise represent your company use a consistent and approved disclaimer. They should be aware of the company’s visual identity guidelines and respect the branding of others – personal or professional. And while you may be speaking on behalf of a company, the public should be able to easily find and access real people within the organisation.
So … that should get you started.
If this all seems to be too much, ask an expert! There are plenty of seasoned social media consultants who could advise your company on its specific requirements to ensure a happy online existence for all involved. If you are one such consultant, leave a note below so you can be contacted, and let me know if I’ve missed anything critical!
~ by mandi bateson on April 8, 2009.