Posted by on May 11, 2009 in Conversational, networking, Policy, socialmedia, Solution | 4 comments

Molding aspects of a social media in a medium to large sized corporation can be tricky. Old fashioned corporate philosophy dictates control over the flow of communication be regulated by the proper in house channels only. In the evolution of social we see individuals representing company ideals and company brands when we use to see press releases and public relations broadcasting their spun version. The core of the company’s foundation ordinarily was concealed unless a controversy manifested and then public relations was brought in to fix it.

The Problem
It amusing to watch some companies evolve into the social sphere so eagerly and staff positions with no comprehension of goals, strategy, or acceptance. The evolution of social platforms and the infectious nature of how quickly information is transferred effects every department of the corporate environment.

On the simplest level, social platforms are designed to accommodate individuals and the complexities of forming and engaging in communities. Individuals form a sense of companionship through the commonality of a similar lifestyle and goals designated online.

Most companies are trying to embrace the influx of their brand’s image online and their individual employee’s representing themselves online. Corporate is not forced to support open dialogue and the exchange of ideas. Some companies have come to terms and developed policies to address the additional attention and enticement of social sphere.

Companies need to acknowledge that their own employee’s are ambassadors of their brand. Online, offline, anywhere.

Considerations for Developing a Corporate Policy

  • Everyone in your company who wants to have a Facebook, Myspace, Twitter login will have one.
  • Employees should consider personal responsibility and a sense of common sense when engaging online. This includes blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, Friend feed, or an user generated platform. be mindful and considerate of others.
  • Advise your employees to be authentic about who they are. It is suggested they use their own identity rather than user name related to the company. Employee statements should reflect their individualism and a realistic point of view.
  • Do not share proprietary or company confidential information. See your legal team for all the fun legal ease terms. (Don’t over do it with restrictions either.) If you put restriction on every aspect and event at your company you are doomed to have a conflict or issue. In general, Archaic legal ease and terms will be the last to adapt to a social environment.

Creating Content

  • Always add value and insight attempt to educate, solve a problem or just don’t bother.
  • Disclaimer. Your company should have a standard 2 sentence disclaimer created by your company and accessible for all employees to add to their blog, wiki, etc. Uniformity is a the key here. It should be available for all employees and approved by your legal team. Every employee should have free reign on the individual opinions but also acknowledge they have an employer and their own opinions do not represent their employer.
  • Don’t pick fights with others. Present yourself how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients even when you are online.
  • Show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory.
  • As an author/ publisher do you research find out who else is blogging, authoring, twittering about your topic. When you site a source always try to link back to original URL source. Create link love.
  • Always cite your sources for photos, videos, quotes. Respect creative commons licenses. Plagiarism is still a bad idea. (You do have good ideas… put them out there. Most individuals don’t bite.)
  • If you wish to write about a project or experience directly related to your employer/client request permission from your designated corporate employee or committee whom controls the flow of information to the external world. Usually the director of marketing.

Who Should This Task Fall too?

Development: A commitee of no more than 4-6 should be composed. To many opinions can make the point of this process obsolete.

Commitee should consist of the following departments:

Marketing dept: Because they are on the front line for exposure and monitoring for the company’s brand. Internal to the the marketing dept I would suggest adding your SEO person technically because its important to adjust the analytics to accomidiate and monitor the new traffic that is generated by social networking.

Sales dept: They need to know what is going on in the social world and how social effects will ripple through how they build relationships, process leads and push potential sales down the sales funnel.

Legal dept: They control the how policies are created and are aware of current policies and guidlines. They are the gate keepers.

Executive dept: They just need to be aware of changes.

PR dept: They are professionals at putting a positive spin on a complicated situation.

Implementation: Human Resources should add the new policy to the companie’s communication plan. They should also translate it to all current employees.

It get ugly out there.

Scenario #1
You have been monitoring your brand with Radian6 or Techrigy out in the wild online world and all goes south one day fast. Something monumental happens to your corporate brand and its all over online. Its ugly out there.

Action plan #1
You ignore it. It might just go away… (best of luck with that).

Action plan #2
Chaos happens
Chaos and change always offers opportunity. Have a plan to spin the hype in your favor. Time frame is crucial. The less time it takes to get a educated retort online the better your brandwill fair. Keep monitoring and addressing the conversation. The above corporate policies are there to avoid chaos as much as they are there to combat it. Add to the above guidelines and have a plan to educate your community and the media when things go awry. Examine Domino’s reaction.

Design a corporate social policy that is an amendment to your communications policy. Educate and address your employee’s in an understanding fashion. Acknowledge your employees worth and value as a blogger, contributor to the community and distinguish the difference between corporate and individual opinion online. It’s just Frank demonstrates these concepts well.

What are your current policies on communication within your corporate structure?

Is your company adapting their own policy?

How does it affect you?


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Elizabeth Hannan is a seasoned Digital Business Strategist recognized by Inc. Magazine, CBS, Business Journals and others. At Blue Blazing Media she serves as Chief Digital Strategy and User Experience Designer consultant. In 2013, her first book Naked Experience will publish. When not creating content you can find her speaking.

Elizabeth is also the founder of WhenToZen, a community of traveling women entrepreneurs and executives finding healthy life balance and adventure offline.

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