When it comes to social media policy in the workplace, more and more companies are deciding to decide. That is, they are finally facing the fact that they might want a policy that deals with the pervasiveness of social media. Regardless of how you feel about it, companies do need a policy. Employees deserve to know what is expected of them. And the policy might as well be not only to allow social media, but to use it as a positive force within the company.
Skeptical? Think Facebook is a time suck? Worried that Twitter will wreck productivity? News flash! Those network blocks you’ve set up, people get around them by using their phones. So here are some reasons to open up those potentially positive channels and let the conversational sun shine in, brothers and sisters!
1. Evangelism is good, despite the bad rap it gets on TV.
I see Twitter updates all day long from users whose companies allow it. Encourage it, even. And most often those updates are about how cool their firm is and how awesome their clients are. It’s positive, it’s free and it your culture is being praised without you lifting a finger. Halleluiah!
2. Your “network” is not your network
I’m not suggesting that you tear down your firewall, Mr. Gorbachev. But the traditional idea of your corporate network already extends beyond its traditional boundaries in the age of social media. So why not use that to include clients, prospects and other business relationships. Post a question on LinkedIn. Tweet out that latest new business conquest. Open up that new blog post on Facebook, even. You’ll be surprised at how much you thought of as “outside” your network can work for you on the inside.
3. If you don’t have a policy, your employees will make up one for you.
It’s the old PR adage: if you don’t frame the conversation, it will be framed for you. And you might not like it! Get in front of the issue. Get feedback from your people about how it can be used productively. Let them know you’ll support them. Otherwise they will find a stairwell or dark corner and make up their own policy.
4. Good policies already exist out there.
Worried about where to start? Use the models already available to you! Intel has one. IBM, Coca-Cola…lots of great companies have them. And many are publically available. Read them. Learn from them. Mix and match. And I bet you’ll find something that works for your flock.
5. Social media is how we discover and communicate now. Deal with it.
When I needed some opinions on file sharing software recently, my first thought was to toss out the question to my LinkedIn network. When I like a product these days, I think about sending out a quick Tweet about it to my followers. And invariably, I learn as much from a company’s Facebook page as I do from their corporate website. It’s 2010. Get your head out of the sand and learn to use the tools that are available to everyone.
I recently took a tour of a huge corporate environment. At the end, the person giving the tour showed us the “only area of the campus where access to Facebook is allowed.” Really? I bet I passed a dozen people with Smartphones who would beg to differ.
Can I get an “Amen”?