8 Things About Governance and Social Media

By Bryant Duhon posted 09-03-2014 12:46


AIIM expert blogger Jeffrey Lewis takes a look at eight reasons why you need to consider governance of your use of social media.

Jeff Lewis is a Certified Information Professional and has experience in records management, content management, requirements management, project management and database management. He holds a graduate degree in Library Science and while obtaining that degree he performed independent studies in implementing digitization projects and an independent reading on long-term digital preservation. In July 2012 Jeff was chosen as an AIIM member of the week and spotlighted as an “Evolving Records Manager.”

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I can’t remember not having a computer at home. I remember starting out with the Apple IIe and playing "Where in the World is Carmen Santiago." In 1994 we upgraded to a PC with a really snazzy graphical user interface and this amazing thing invented by Al Gore called the Internet. Many of my nights were filled with this:

Before Xanga, Facebook, and Twitter I got my indoctrination into the world of social media via Prodigy’s online message boards. The message boards on Prodigy were never a place for social marketing and they eventually went the way of the dinosaur. That is the interesting thing about social media; its survival is based on finding a niche through which it can make money. Even though we may inaccurately think of social media as something, well, “just social,” the governance of it has major corporate implications. For that reason I believe it is important to consider eight ways that social media impacts information governance.

1. Any information governance policy that has content management under its scope needs to include social as part of its jurisdiction.

All information in an organization has the potential to pose risk to an organization as well as be an asset that the enterprise can get return on investment. Thus, all information needs to be managed – enterprise content, data, social media, and any other avenues in which information flows through an organization. Keep in mind that social content is a subset of enterprise content and the differentiating factor is the medium in which the content is disseminated.

Not all content needs to follow the same rules and principles that records management requires. The same is true of social content. Not all social content is created equal and needs to be managed the same way.

To manage any type of content it is essential to have policies in place. Social media governance should springboard off of content/communication-related technologies that are already in place. A common mistake in social media governance is having a policy for the different types of social media instead of being broad enough to cover all platforms in one policy. The priority shouldn’t be having a policy that covers Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc., but the focus should be acceptable use, confidentiality, privacy, and other regulatory concerns regardless of platform.

2. Social content changes the way we look at metadata management.

The search and retrieval of all content is based on applying the proper metadata. When dealing with social content the metadata is often not very straightforward. Even though a social media governance policy should not be platform specific, the rules for applying metadata cannot be applied unless platform specific. A prime example of this is with the content creator in Twitter. The Certified Information Professional study guide states, “You may have to develop a thesaurus of other mapping tool to place meaningful metadata together, such as by matching the @username in a Tweet to a username in the company directory.”

3. Social media governance cannot be assumed.

Social media use is growing. Facebook has over 1.3 billion monthly users. In other words, Facebook has the population of China for its monthly active users. If you created a country out of monthly active Twitter users you would have the world’s fourth most populous country. With all of the people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and, well, insert your own favorite here you can’t assume they will all use common sense or play by the same rules. The grandmother who uses social media to keep up with her grandkids will have different expectation of social media then the intern. You need your employees to have a common set of expectations for social media use.  

4. Personal social media can have corporate implications.

The truth that is lost amongst many millennials about social media is that social media may be fun and games, but things said in jest can have major ramifications. It seems like not a day goes by that the mainstream media or TMZ is not reporting on a celebrity doing something immature and litigious online. Unfortunately these kinds of mistakes are not reserved for the young. In 2005 the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, used the pseudonym “Rahodeb” to have fun and play Devil’s advocate as he posted on a Yahoo stock forum to disparage a competitor that his company eventually bought out. In the process of acquiring this competitor the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated to see if his online postings were an illegal attempt to lower stock prices for the impending acquisition. For more information you can read Whole Foods Is Hot, Wild Oats a Dud -- So Said 'Rahodeb'

5. Facilitates mature knowledge management.

 Many people only think of risks or marketing potential when they think of social media. It is important to see where social media can be an ally of information governance. Information governance is more than just records management. Other disciplines that fall under the discipline of information governance include enterprise content management, digital asset management, and knowledge management; to name a few. Social media tools that facilitate collaborative knowledge sharing such as wikis, Yammer, and blogs allow for a centralized portal with the purpose of identifying, gathering, and disseminating knowledge that can help an organization run more efficiently.

6. Social Media governance enforces the need for the right tools and broad understanding of business.

With the growing complexity of an organization’s information needs it is harder and harder to govern information in house. Social media governance is a prime example of this – the information that needs to be governed will be on another platform. To govern this information, you’ll need to work with a vendor that has the tools to retain and make available social media records. Depending on your business needs there are many different options such as using APIs to export content, social media monitoring, application specific export tools, and cloud-based backup and information services.

7. Must consider obsolescence in a way we never have before.

About ten years ago the major dilemma for records managers was that of long-term digital preservation. Jeff Rothenberg, a digital archivist, once famously said, “Digital information will last five years or forever, whichever comes first.” His point was that we still have the originals of documents that are centuries old, but digital content has yet to stand the test of time. Content on Facebook, Twitter, and many other platforms are out to prove that it is safer to bank on forever instead of five years. Unfortunately users of Provence (microblogging similar to Twitter that did not see a second birthday), Surfbook (Dutch social network that closed in 2004 and inventor of “like” button), and Windows Live Spaces also known as MSN Spaces (120,000,000 registered users) learned all too easily the lack of stability that can come from social media due to obsolescence.

8. Must stay on top of trends and areas of potential risk and return on investment.

It is far likelier for someone to create a new thriving social media site then for one to go obsolete. For that reason it is important to know what social media trends can affect your industry. Are there any privacy concerns or vulnerabilities that social media can expose you to, especially in the instance that your account is hacked? Equally important, consider how to leverage social media to get maximum return on investment of your information assets. You don’t just do social to do social and because it is the current trend. To get the most out of financial assets you do not just put it into a savings account but you research where it can have the most growth. Social media may be risky, but if governed rightly can have high rewards as long as it is a collaborative process between technology, compliance, business, and information governance. Unfortunately too often, RIM is not present at pertinent discussions because disruptive technologies do not fit into our traditional view of records. If we want to stay relevant we need to be involved in early conversion about managing all records and information regardless of format and where it is in the lifecycle. 

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