More organizations are making the move into social media, either by starting a CEO blog, a customer Facebook group, or just by allowing employees to blog openly about their work lives.
As a result, more organizations are finding it necessary to draft a social media policy, or at least a set of principles, meant to guide employees’ behavior online.
In a follow-up post, Beth relates an anonymous tale of a corporate social media policy:
In truth, the policy… is quite vague. It goes on for a while but really just says, “Use common sense and please don’t say stupid stuff. In fact, we’d love it if you told your personal institutional story in a constructive way.
I think that’s what most blogging/social media policies really boil down to.
It seems like executives (and nonprofit boards) are primarily concerned about three things:
- Employees will say bad things about the organization (sponsors, vendors, customers, etc.);
- Customers/constituents will say bad things about the organization (sponsors, staff, vendors, etc.);
- Employees will tell secrets.
It’s been said that companies would do well to remember that they have to trust their employees on these issues every day already — every time they talk to a customer, deal with a member, gab with a vendor, or work with a sponsor, you are trusting them to represent you and your brand responsibly, with discretion and integrity.
If you haven’t hired people you can trust to behave like responsible adults, then there is a deeper problem.
Of course, by “secrets” we can also be talking about “knowledge” — especially if your primary product is ideas and analysis. How much should smart, responsible bloggers share of their smart, responsible (and valuable) thinking?
Colony seems concerned, understandably, about the wisdom of giving away too much of his company‘s bread-and-butter, which is insight, analysis, and forecasting. Do bloggers like Jeremiah Owyang give away the farm by blogging so prolifically on his topics of expertise?
Not hardly, David says:
I think the blogger-as-superstar-brand is good for any company — but especially Forrester, JupiterResearch, Gartner, IDC, and other organizations that rely on ideas as currency. Your employees already are your brand whether you realize it or not.
The problem with this fear of giving away the farm, this anxiety that every bit of our product needs to be paid for, is that it ignores the way that social media works. Social media works around relationships (believe it or not), not transactions.
Yes, most marketers think they have “relationships” with their customers, but they don’t, not really. They are really going right for the sale, and they aren’t really listening at all.
They go right for the transaction. It’s like: Hi, there, I’m…hey, is that your hand in my pocket?
I think I speak for a lot of us when I say “Please get your hands out of our pockets. We’ll call you when we need you.”
The economy in most social networks is just different from the more typical, everyday, transactional business model. Online, in social media, you give a little (sometimes a lot) to get more. Sometimes a lot more.
Ignore this at your peril.