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Social Media Policies Important, Empowerment Is Critical

Michael Brito Posted by

This post by Brian Solis got me thinking. I have been talking for years now about the importance for the enterprise to adopt social media policies. And here we are in 2011 and 75 percent of employers say their business has no formal policy instructing employees on the appropriate use of social networking sites on the job.  This tells me that social media is still an afterthought in most organizations. Or, that many companies just don’t trust their employees to engage.

And then I re-read the 2010 State of Community Management released last week and came across an interesting data point – Executives are overwhelmingly positive about social approaches with 59% perceived as either ‘cautiously optimistic’ or ‘enthusiastic’ about it. I have to ask myself, “optimistic and enthusiastic about what?” Certainly the evolution into a social business involves much more than an emotion, right?  It’s great that 67 percent of organizations are hiring community managers, but what are they able to do? Are they empowered to actually solve customer problems or are they just moderating comments?

So let’s recap this for a second.  We are living in an era where every celebrity is using Twitter, even the bad ones.  Every news organization, media company and anchor is using social media to report breaking news (Egypt, Iran, Japan, etc.) Most fortune 500 companies are using social media in one form or another; and yet, there are no formal policies for engagement?

A similar study by eMarketer gives me a little hope; it reported that 45 percent of companies in their study are creating and distributing policies internally regarding the use of social i.e. responding to negative/positive comments and general use of social media.

While the creation of social media guidelines is certainly a very small step to operationalize social media; there is much more to consider in building social – as a behavior — into the fabric of employees’ daily work responsibilities. This initiative, this mandate needs to come from the leadership of the organization.  And, it involves much more than just creating a formal document and posting it online somewhere. Executives need to set the example and live it themselves, champion collaboration internally among business units, groups and regions; and invest dollars to support internal and external social initiatives. Only then, will organizations realize the true business value of employees engaging externally on the social web.

I talk about this in Chapter 1 of my book, Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization scheduled to be released in July 2011.

About the Author: Michael is a strategic social media marketer who has worked internally for Fortune 500 companies like Sony, HP, Yahoo and now Intel. He currently manages social media for the consumer segment at Intel and also serves as a social media evangelist throughout the organization. He is the founder of Conversations Matter; a conversational marketing blog authored by enterprise marketers and also authors his own social media blog.

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