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Fighting Digital Illiteracy with Social Media Policies at Work

social media policies at work

Social media policies at work are a critical component of winning the war against digital illiteracy?

But the first step is the toughest one. And it’s also the most important.

Provide employees with clear-cut, easy-to-follow guidelines to help them distinguish between conversations that can happen in public, and conversations that need to be kept private.

Social media has become an integral part of our personal lives.  But policies are often long and difficult to read.

Don’t expect employees to invest in ordinate amount of time reading your social media use policy, whether it’s a good social media policy or a draconian gag order.

Unless organizations take the time to explain their social media use at work policy, they risk forfeiting the chance to:

  • Capitalize on social marketing opportunities
  • Attract and retain top-notch personnel
  • Thwart obsolescence

Here’s why:

On social networks, trends direct our attention.

We have more confidence in the wisdom of the crowd than the opinion of individual.

A Yelp score on a restaurant listing with 3-stars and 300 ratings is more credible than a 5-star with just 12 ratings.

For the same reason, organizations realize the true value of social marketing is unlocked when everyone gets involved.  The more people there are discussing a topic, the greater the likelihood others will discover it.

A corporate Twitter and Facebook account used by your PR or marketing department are important, but they’ll never be as trusted as the conversations of a diverse, engaged community.

And the larger the community, the more confidence we have in what they say, and the more likely we are to give it our attention.

Social Media in the Workplace Policy

Whenever an employee uses social media to get their job done, they leave behind a digital record that can be found and shared indefinitely.

Without a corporate social media policy for employees, that’s a little scary.

But if you’ve thought it through, social media is a productivity windfall, because marketing becomes the byproduct of using social media to get your job done.

Remember, your employees are using social media in their personal lives already.

If you’d like them to use their personal social networking accounts for your business too, they need to know what’s expected.

Leadership needs to set clear-cut boundaries, so employees know what is and isn’y acceptable.

Companies that fail to take this step, will most likely struggle to mobilize personnel to effectively leverage social media.

It’s critical that the guidelines for social media policy in the workplace be fair and just.

Employees and Social Media Policy 

Blocking access to Facebook at work but expecting employees to respond to email outside of business hours sets uneven standard.

Blocking access to social networks is both unfair and futile, because workers should have the right communicate with their friends and family, as long is it doesn’t interfere with the quality of their work.

By issuing an order that USMC command cannot block access to social media on the Marine Corps nonclassified network, the Commandant effectively access before releasing the official USMC Social Media Policy.

Social media blackouts are the result of digitally illiteracy.

They are enacted by misguided leaders who believe restricting information flows is the best way to control popular sentiment.

But as Wikileaks, Twitter and Napster have proven, the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

Or as Esther Dyson once said, companies that profit from inefficiency will die, and for many types of communications, social media is simply more efficient.

Once the boundaries are in place, and everyone knows what can be public and what should be private, social media becomes a productivity gain, not drain.

Check out how Johns Hopkins and Avery Dennison are using internal social networks, or the workplace productivity gains of Chatter.

In this environment, the organizations that can draw a clear line between public and private have a huge advantage.

The road to getting there runs straight through social media policy in the workplace, because you can’t draw the line between public and proprietary information unless you do the homework to figure that out first.

And you can’t teach others to respect boundaries if they don’t know where they lie.

Social media in the workplace without governance is reckless.

And rules without training are toothless.

Take a look at my Social Media Policy Template to accelerate your policy development efforts or use my free Social Media Policy Development Training Course which takes you through all aspects of building a social media policy.

Welcome to the world of social media policies at work. If you’re part of the workforce, you’re in it whether you like it or not.

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