Social media policies – a lot to think about!

Posted: February 20, 2011 in Acceptable Behaviour, Conduct, Libraries, Policy, Risk, Social Networking, Training
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Before investigating the world of social media, it is wise for organisations to develop and implement a policy that will determine how these new technologies may be used. While some organisations only focus on the mitigating risks and not having a social media public relations issue (similar to Commbank did recently), a policy can also act as a guideline for all employees and give them a sense of how they can use social media technologies to communicate both personally and professionally.

Developing a social media policy is something that needs to be considered as carefully as any other policy, to ensure that all aspects are covered. Below are just a few things to consider when creating the policy.

1. Teamwork – a cross functional team should be created to work on the policy to ensure a wide range of experience and viewpoints. It would be useful to have someone from management to lend credence to the policy, as well as someone from the marketing or communications team, an advisor from the legal team and the HR team, as well as a couple of employees. Ideally, the team would include people from different generations, to help cover the issues as they may be faced by different employees.

2. Consultation – To determine what content needs to be covered in the policy, it is important to consult widely with the organisation and understand how employees use social media. Once that is done, an appropriate plan for that usage can be worked out.

3. Risk Management – Any risks need to be identified, planned for and managed carefully. Some of the more critical risks include the release of confidential or sensitive information, lost productivity due to employees using social media excessively, harassment between colleagues or inappropriate behaviour between employees and members of the public.

4. Terms of Use – guidelines need to be decided upon and advertised widely both within the organisation and externally. These guidelines would cover acceptable behaviour, values and there should be clearly defined ramifications for non-compliance, which are dealt with immediately.

5. Policy Review – Once these guidelines have been developed, any existing organisational policies need to be reviewed and amended as necessary. Policies that may be influenced by social media use include records management, IT, information security, privacy and HR/code of conduct.

With a carefully thought out social media policy, organisations may find they have a much deeper connection with their community and greater brand recognition.

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