Developing Governance Policies for Social Media - the AIIM Social Business Virtual Event

By Jesse Wilkins posted 06-20-2011 12:39



At the upcoming AIIM social business virtual conference, I am delivering two sessions on developing a social media policy for Facebook and Twitter. I am also writing several modules in that vein for an upcoming course. But as I started to put mouse to PowerPoint I started to think a bit about governance in the age of social business. And then I came to the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. I had dinner with a bunch of really smart people and we started talking about governance, and one guy said, "Social media governance should be 80% social and 20% governance." 
Hrm. After all, the traditional approach to writing policies is to draft very lengthy, very specific tomes filled with page after page of proscriptions. Then the thing has to be vetted across the entire organization to ensure that it's legally and operationally defensible, with the result that it can take months or longer to get a policy from initiation to approval and rollout. At the same time, those policies are often lengthy and difficult to understand, and attempt to regulate every possible aspect of the thing. 
That's far too long generally; it's even more difficult to support today, when social business tools might be created, used, and fade away in the course of the same period. Yet there's still a need for effective guidance, particularly for organizations in highly regulated sectors like pharmaceutical or financial services. 
The best policies will not prevent users from saying or doing the wrong things - only instilling a sense of organizational culture will do that. The policy should be a reminder rather than a checklist. Best Buy has an excellent example of this on its website - its 1-page policy can be further reduced to the headline, "Be smart. Be respectful. Be human." 
This policy is not filled with acceptable usage policies, examples of what not to do, etc. Yet Best Buy, a Fortune 50 company with more than 180,000 employees, seems to be doing OK with it. So maybe it's time to rethink the specifics of your policy and instead provide a simpler policy with some guidelines to back it up. Each tool has its own nuances in terms of functionality as well as how it is used by a particular organization, but the Best Buy example is pretty applicable across the board. 
At the sessions I describe above, I will be taking a hybrid approach - attendees will see examples of a number of social media policies across a variety of sectors. In each session we'll look at some of the unique issues the tools provide and how to address them in the policy, but I think the conversation last night was correct - if you can do 80% social media and 20% governance, you'll have enough control to keep the organization out of trouble while not being so restrictive that nobody wants to use the tools. 


#SocialBusiness #facebook #policy #governance #twitter #socialmedia