Social-Media Policies Need to Catch Up With Reality

A pretty interesting report came across my computer screen just now — a survey showing a wide disparity between the increased use of social media in the workplace and the dearth of policies to ensure it’s being used properly and effectively.

A top finding of this  Wave VI in the Social Media Index survey is that, despite a 35-percent increase in social-media consumption, more than half of the nearly 3,000 global IT, HR and finance professionals polled either do not have a social-media policy at their company or are unsure if they do. One other interesting note: HR professionals spend an average of six hours per week engaging with social-media content, versus about four with editorial content and about three with vendor content. 

Spun a different way, the survey — by Toolbox.com and PJA Advertising + Marketing — finds that, although social-media policies may be hard to come by in many companies, 40 percent of IT and finance respondenets and 46 percent of HR respondents say their workplace now makes it “easy” or “very easy” to use social media on the job.

“As user-generated content continues to make up a greater percentage of a professional’s week,” says George Krautzel, “companies need to accelerate their thinking about two things: how to guide employees on properly representing their company when engaging, and how to make their own IP accessible in social channels.”

Or, in the words of Mike O’Toole, president at PJA, the results of the survey make it “clear that you really need to bring social media and user-generated content into all the ways you communicate with your colleagues and customers to be effective.”

There’s a “clear opportunity cost,” he says, “if you don’t have a simple, clear policy that balances self-monitoring with company regulations. And since marketers are the owners of where social practices are moving for companies, these policies really ought to be coming out of collaboration between marketing and legal, with marketing leading the charge.”

Hadn’t actually thought about who should be leading the social-media-policy charge until I read that. I suppose I could generate some arguments that CEOs, CIOs and CHROs should be in that brainstem. But O’Toole’s right about marketers. They really are leading the corporate social-media parade.

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