Social Media Policy – Part 1 – Organizational Culture

One of the key items to consider when developing a social media policy is the value that the organization’s leadership places on the use of social media.  This value system regarding social media will largely determine how the organization resolves issues with its employees’ use of social media.  Broadly speaking, organizations can be divided based on three types of views of social media: those that widely support usage, those that restrict usage, and those that fall somewhere in the middle.  The following chart illustrates the view of social media by such organization types. 

Supportive In the Middle Restrictive
  • The organization supports employee use of social media for both personal and work-related issues.
  • The organization places very few, if any, restrictions on the use of social media. 
  •   These organizations vary from organizations that are supportive of employee use of social media, with mild restrictions and well defined guidelines. 
  • The majority of organizations fall somewhere in this category.
  •  The organization restricts use of social media tools for both personal and work-related issues.
  • The organization blocks access to social media websites on the organization’s system.

An example of a supportive organization is Zappos because the organization adopted an official Twitter policy that requires employees to “just be real and use your best judgment.” An example of a restrictive organization is the U.S. Marine Corp, which has banned all access to social media websites on the organization’s computer system.  The Mayo Clinic, IBM, and Intel are examples of “in the middle” organizations because these organizations allow employees to use social media websites to discuss work-related issues, but the organizations have set clear guidelines as to what actions are, or are not, appropriate when discussing organizational business.

So what is your organizations culture?  Is this a good starting point?  What would you add to this topic?

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