Social media governance: The new communications battle field


Written by Adam Benson – Director of Recognition PR

If you haven’t come across the term ‘social media governance’ you’re about to hear the term a whole lot more.

Social Media Governance may be defined as ‘policies and procedures created and enforced to govern the use of social media by those who are directly employed, officially affiliated or otherwise authorised to represent an organisation.’

It’s about making sure the people who are paid to represent your company (staff, contractors, some strategic suppliers etc) don’t create legal, brand or commercial damage by misusing social media, either deliberately or inadvertently.

In the same way that companies have employment agreements and computer usage and mobile device use policies to ensure they protect their business and the welfare of their staff, there is a trend of implementing usage policies to improve social media governance.

For many organisations, it would seem prudent to create a social media policy that outlines what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to how your representatives use social media. Clearly you can’t over-ride workplace laws and other regulations, but you can still explain how people’s existing commitments in their employment agreements or other contracts extend to the use of social media. Just joining the dots for people is sometimes an eye opener.

Second, make sure people are given the policy to read and sign. Don’t add it to the HR portal and hope people notice it.

Third, train people in best-practice use of social media, particularly tools like LinkedIn. Most employees and contractors want to use social media properly and will value training on how to get the most out of the tools they already use. Equally, most people also want to know what NOT to do when it comes to using social media networks.

If you have a policy, offer training and support, then not only will you reduce your organisation’s exposure generally to misguided postings and poor online behaviour, you will empower your teams to start using social media to support your marketing, sales and customer relations objectives.

The reality is, many employees are already doing this ‘under the radar’ or informally, but it’s critical that organisations start grabbing this by the horns and not the tail and implement informed social media governance programs…. To read more subscribe to the magazine today!