By Jean Young, Vice President, ISM, Inc.
I recently followed up with a number of attendees of a successful ISM Social Media Policy Webinar held in November. The big surprise was the intense frustration I heard from the folks who were most directly impacted: marketing, IT, HR, and a slew of other people who have titles with “digital,” “social media” and “online” in them.
A large number of key managers had been completely overlooked during the formation of employee guidelines. This seems particularly true for large global corporations, which are wrestling with policies that will apply in multinational settings. One North American IT executive, for example, was “upset” with an “open policy” that gave little or no direction regarding online behavior at or about work. Meanwhile, a marketing executive faces the opposite challenge—trying to figure out how a subsidiary can offset a highly restrictive policy imposed by the 200,000-employee American-based parent.
Issues crop up early in the process. Many mid-management executives are being told to “come up with a social media policy” with little or no guidance, staffing support, or management involvement. The executive suite may know guidelines are needed, but not how to formulate them, handing it off to mid-management with “don’t bother us—just do it.”
The C-suite needs to be realistic about—and budget for—time, talent and investments needed to create and promote a thoughtful, evolving social media program. Ultimately, the goal is not only to control, but to encourage appropriate employee participation in social media—generating positive messaging and constructive social media engagement.
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