Does your agency have a written social media policy and procedure

Without getting in why you need or why you should purchase cyber liability I would like to get into why you should or shouldn’t implement a social media policy or procedure in your agency.

 The prevailing belief is that you SHOULD implement social media guidelines in your agency.  You have policies for vacation time, sexual harassment and theft of company assets so why shouldn’t you have a social media policy and procedure to add to your employee manual?  A recent study shows that only 1 out of 7 firms have implemented the use of social media in the operation of their firm while 1 out of 5 firms have implemented a social media policy or procedure.

 Why the increase in the number of companies adding social media procedures to their employee manual is to be expected, I came across a blog entry that argues that companies should take the exact opposite approach.  I am not sure I buy into their view but it is worth a look.   Here are the reasons why they argue that companies should NOT implement a social media procedure:

1. Your people can be trusted.  Most people will do the right thing given the chance.  They argue that they are not being naïve.  I would not necessarily disagree with their assessment but I do think you have to plan for the one in one hundred that can not be trusted.  You would like to believe that you have done sufficient pre-employment testing and have experienced their work performance enough that you could gauge their trustworthiness, but you can never tell.

2. Social Media is just one more way you can communicate.  They argue that you already have a phone communication procedure, an e-mail communication procedure and a fax communication procedure, so why do you need a new “communication” procedure?  I would argue the opposite.  With new methods of communicating opening up, people are looking for guidance.  You can’t assume that the “rules” will just be known and it is better to lay down your expectations so that your employees can meet those expectations.  It eliminates the “I didn’t know or you never told me….” mentality.

 

3. More rules only make your company more bureaucratic.  They argue that you can’t come up with enough rules to guarantee that people will do the right thing.  Too many rules only make your organization slower and less likely to embrace the change it needs to survive.  I agree with this to a point.  I do believe many times you need a basic set of rules (regulations) and employees will follow them.  I don’t think you need to detail every little detail or you WILL slow down how quickly they operate or how willing they adopt new methods of communication.

 

4. Formal policies only discourage people from participating.  If they think they will get in trouble, then they will not participate.  I disagree. People are smarter than that.  If this were true people would never want to drive.  They would be frozen with fear that they would get into an accident.  Systematic rules lead to compliance with those rules.  While everyone does not follow the speed limit, they do know the laws and make their best attempt to be as compliant as possible.

 

5. You probably already have policies that govern inappropriate behavior.  They argue that you already have “personal conduct violations” guidelines and consequences, so why would you need to detail out a procedure that just restates these guidelines?  Sure, most employee manuals detail out what is inappropriate behavior but social media can go beyond the business conduct versus personal conduct boundary lines.  This blurring on the boundary lines makes it even more important to have this type of policy and procedure in place.

 

So I guess you can put me in the column of it is better to have written policies and procedures regarding the use of social media in relation to your business.  I would ask that you make it “simple” and not laden with legalese. Take a balanced approach and I believe you will not stifle creativity and innovation.

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