"We don't do social media here." Really?

By Jesse Wilkins posted 10-22-2012 11:30



I had an interesting discussion last week about social media and governance. The person's perspective was that his organization didn't have to worry about social media governance because his IT team blocks the more common services like Facebook, Twitter, etc. at the firewall. Let me lay out five reasons why this is not the right solution - or even an effective one. 
1. The person mentioned that his IT team blocks the most common services. There are thousands of popular social media sites and millions more when you look at blog, white-label services like Ning, gaming sites, and other social sites not commonly considered as such. While Facebook is the single largest social media site, if the concern is for security and productivity Facebook may be the least of the organization's concerns. 
2. Many users access social media sites indirectly using third-party services and clients. So blocking Facebook might not block updates to it from 4square, or Tripit, or any of those millions of other sites. 
3. Just because a site is blocked from the worksite and during working hours doesn't mean users can't get to it. Most employees have computers and internet access at home. Every cafe and coffee shop has free wifi. And as more of your staff works flexible hours or works remotely, the notion of IT blocking access to anything becomes increasingly quaint. 
4. This is exacerbated by the rise of the smart phone and tablet. You may still work 9-5 at your organization's place of business and therefore find yourself behind IT's firewall. But statistically you probably have a smart phone or tablet, and increasingly those devices are yours, not provided by your organization. And unless you work in a shadowy government organization and drop your phone in a lead-lined box every morning, there isn't anything IT can do technology-wise to block your accessing social media over your own data plan (3G/4G etc.). 
5. The final reason, however, outweighs all of the other ones. Study after study has shown that organizations that leverage social media are more agile, more responsive, and better perceived by their constituents and customers and the marketplace. In other words, we had the same technology, security, and productivity concerns in the past about email, and internet access, and computers, and even telephones. Yet which of those tools are you willing to block at the boundaries of your organization? None of them because they are critical to getting the work done in your organization. 
Social media isn't there yet, and some sites may never be mission-critical. But they are where the conversations about your products, your brand, your employees and management, and your organization are taking place. And if you simply put your head in the sand and ignore them, you cannot be surprised when you find that your competitors have passed you - or even lapped you. 
There's a better way. AIIM can teach you how to manage social media effectively and responsibly and in a way that supports the work of the organization. Read our white paper on Conducting a Social Business Assessment and take a look at our Social Media Governance training program. 

#facebook #web2.0 #Security #SMG #twitter #governance #socialmedia #Collaboration #ElectronicRecordsManagement


10-31-2012 05:36

Hi Jesse, I agree with you in all points. In particular 2 and 4 means that IT need to "fight" to get this blocking rule working in daily business. As IT Director for a Media Monitoring (Print/TV/Social) company I can simply say that a "ride" together with the user could be an option too. An introduction of a Social Media Policy for employees is a good step into this direction from my point of view. A second idea would be a simple, cost-free or cheap, easy Social Media Monitoring tool to simply start monitoring if the company is already mentioned by employees on sites like Twitter, Facebook or blogs. If this is the case your points 3 and 5 become very important to consider.
I am happy to support here if needed.

10-22-2012 12:35

My thought would be that the person you talked to didn't understand the rationale for blocking social media sites, I highly doubt that it was some misguided attempt to keep employees from engaging with social media messages about the company. In general, my understanding is that most companies block social media sites because they are perceived as time-wasters. Secondarily, they may be security threats either because of the apps associated with them or because employees do stupid things like check in using pictures of proprietary information.
You're precisely right on how people can work around blocking controls. At the end of the day, if they want to check Facebook or check in on Yelp or Foursquare, they will find a way.
My employer has a limited social media presence. We're not a consumer business, so we're engaging people at a different level. Social media is seen as something that we should do, but is not a primary form of engagement. We do govern how our employees engage in social media, but it is mainly asking them to own what they do out there and not do anything really stupid. Unless they are authorized to speak on behalf of the company, they aren't supposed to be engaging our customers via social media.
Our presence is generally a reflection of other channels of communication and is seldom two-way, so we have a very limited risk profile. And I suspect that is the case for many organizations. Perhaps that is what the person you were speaking to really meant.