Social Media Policies

A small group of IMF members met today to discuss their companies’ approaches to Social Media.  Throughout the corporate world, the initial reaction to social media was to block access, fearing security vulnerabilities, legal issues, and productivity losses.  Recently, companies have been shifting their stances on these issues.

Impetus for Change: As Facebook, Twitter, and other similar social media outlets have become increasingly prevalent, marketing departments and other revenue generating business units have demanded access to these tools for the continued growth of the company.  In many cases, this has forced the IT organization (and most often, IT Security specifically) to take a harder look at the specific risks and rewards at play.  Some organizations are opening up the use of these sites to specific groups (marketing, recruiting, sales) but not to the general employee base.  Fewer are allowing full access to all “Social Networking” sites via their web filtering software to the entire organization.

Educating the Employees: The huge concern of employee misconduct still remains.  As companies can easily monitor web traffic for employees at work, the largest area of worry now relates to what might be said/posted through social media when the employee is at home.  Companies are now updating their acceptable use policies to include statements such as “Employees are expected to act in a manner that is fitting with company culture and policies even when using social websites during non-work hours on personal equipment.”  Many companies are now using third-party products to scan the public web for any mentions of their company name, products, or management.  Any unacceptable conversation by an employee can be grounds for action per company policies.

Understanding the Trend: Companies are becoming more aware that their employees (at all levels and ages) are using social media in their everyday lives.  As a result, these tools and technologies will continue to become more integrated with the corporate culture and operations.  Companies that are most able to keep up with the rapid release cycle of social media products and services will be in the best position to maintain employee satisfaction while maximizing their sales and marketing potential.