A New Year’s Resolution – Get Yourself a Social Media Policy

2010 promises to be another big year in the development of social media, especially its influence on the world of business.

Still more and more people (most of them someones employees) are becoming more and more active online – developing facebook / Linkedin profiles, uploading content to YouTube or flickr or posting on blogs or twitter.

Like it or not, all this activity it has consequences for businesses. Whether it’s  positive stories of employee bloggers providing valuable customer service, or the damaging effects of the occasional malicious post on YouTube, social media use by members of organisations is impacting on their businesses and these impacts will continue to grow.

Despite its provocative title Five Reasons Why Your Company Doesn’t Need a Social Media Policy by Michael Hyatt provides a good overview of the sort of discussion every business should be having about the use of social media by its members. Whilst claiming to argue against the need for any policy, what Michael seems to be calling for is a common sense approach. Something like the recently published Online social media principles from The Coca Cola Company perhaps.

The ability to be heard on-line doesn’t suddenly turn employees into vandals. Social media is just the latest new means for communicating and people should be encouraged to use it. However, it is probably worth pointing out some of the particular peculiarities of the on-line world; the speed at which word can spread, the increased visibility and the permanence of the record. It might also be worth reminding everyone that the old rules of courtesy  and responsibility still apply.

Even if you eventually decide that your policy is to have no policy, every organisation needs to spend some time this year thinking about the possibilities, the opportunities and the risks, presented by social media and how they are best addressed.

This article also appeared on www.GNIUS.co.uk

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