As Twitter, Facebook, Groupon and more explode onto the scene, your organization is probably wondering if you're wasting an opportunity to reach out to prospective customers, employees, analysts and the press. If you engage in social media
As CIO, your job is to formulate a social media policy that defines the goals, behaviors and metrics that will allow your company to succeed.
Don't know where to start? Here are some best practices:
- Decide how you feel, from an organizational standpoint, about social media. Will social
media be a proactive or a reactive tool for your business? In your mind, what does a successful
social media engagement look like -- is it employees communicating with the general public as
spokespersons for the company? Is it controlled messaging through a marketing or public relations
department? Do you see social media as a tool for driving sales, or are you looking for the finer
points of community and press engagement or perhaps brand visibility and awareness among your
customers? These elements shape your world view of social media and will help frame the discussion
for your policy.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel -- use other companies as examples. Pick companies that operate
in the same relative space as yours -- not necessarily competitors, but those whose customers might
be expecting a similar level of engagement from them as yours would. There’s no need to start from
scratch. Telstra Corp. Ltd., an Australian telecommunications and information services company, has
a straightforward social
media policy that is available online, while the policy at Intel Corp. is more complex.
Take these examples, see where they fit into your company’s social media world view and massage
those tenets to address your standards.
- Outline the front lines of engagement. Make clear decisions and assignments on the
responsibility for keeping your organization’s social media fronts updated and engaged. Who will
own them? How frequently will they be updated and monitored? While a social media policy is
organization-wide -- in that tenets apply to all employees at all times -- it is the nature of the
beast that a single person, either an employee or a vendor, is managing the actual interactions.
How do you find this person? It’s easier than you'd think: There's at least one person in your
organization who is crazy about updating
Facebook and Twitter. Look for people already engaged in their own community and their own
circles and see if their talents and passion are a good fit for assuming the online identity of
- Establish who owns the blog postings, Facebook notes, status updates, tweets, company photos
and other content. The boundaries are clear when using company property on company time posting
to company-owned websites but, when it comes to Twitter
and Facebook, the boundaries are blurry. It’s in the best interests of the company to own the
company’s own social media accounts -- not the employee who is currently tasked with keeping them
up to date and responsive. Since these accounts do not reside on company machines, set clear
processes where common sense might not prevail.
- Monitor well and have data available so you can measure your results. Invest in tool sets and programs to help monitor all of your social media engagements from as few panes of glass as possible.
Jonathan Hassell is president of The Sun Valley Group Inc. He's an author, consultant and speaker in Charlotte, N.C. Hassell's books include RADIUS, Learning Windows Server 2003, Hardening Windows and, most recently, Windows Vista: Beyond the Manual. Contact him at email@example.com.
This was first published in March 2011