A social media policy is now inherent to a business. In our previous article on social media policy, we had discussed why a company should have a social media policy. If you have missed the article then you can have a look here.
With the increase in usage of social networks and keeping in mind the viral factor, Indian businesses are trying to have a policy in place that would save them from future facepalm situations. Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO at Social Wavelength thinks that most of the employees fail to understand that personal opinion can hurt a brand image. He also adds that to overcome such situations a social media policy is an ideal weapon:
When a person is an employee of an organization, and he makes a post or a comment on a subject, the people who know that he is part of that organization, could construe the message as being the voice of the organization. Whereas, in reality, it could have been a personal opinion. Such misunderstandings can be avoided with a clear social media policy, which may ask employees to make declarations that the opinions expressed by them are their own, and not of their organization.
Such and other issues coming out of the increased usage of social media, and the merging of personal and professional spaces, makes it necessary for companies’ to have clear social media policies to take care of such situations.
But will a mere policy creation make things work and will it be good enough in controlling. I personally think that educating employees should also be one of the priorities by organizations. We saw how Dell works with its employees in training them in the previous post. Same way Infosys is gradually implementing a social media policy for its huge work force. Sanjay Sahay, Head – Online Marketing at Infosys shared that at Infosys they are taking the whole initiative in two folds:
1. Updating the code of conduct policy with social media elements.
2. Educating the employees in order to implement the social media policy.
Sanjay shared that the ‘Code of Conduct’ policy already covers most of the elements that are required for a social media policy. The open area
that he thinks is the missing element in what constitutes as a personal discussion and a professional discussion. He also added that having a personal opinion is appreciated but make sure to declare that you are an Infoscion with a disclaimer that the opinions expressed are your own.
The move is slowly and steadily happening at Infosys. However, such initiatives don’t happen in a fortnight. It is a cultural and behavioral shift for the organization and employees so it is definite that we are going to see some challenges in the path. Robin Abraham, Co-Founder at Drizzlin also feels that cultural change is the biggest challenge and he adds more to it:
The biggest challenge I feel for any organization is managing the cultural change. There is definitely a loss of control which is now more distributed. Employees also need to be encouraged to participate and be kept in alignment with pre-determined objectives of empowerment. Sometimes communicating those objectives can be a major pain point. Of course the challenges that you would associate with social media in general like a disgruntled employee tweeting about you or a leak happening around your next ‘innovative product’ but then having a social media policy at least helps you address these issues in a better prepared manner rather than take a firefighting approach.
Apart from the cultural challenge, stopping employees from leaking information on web 2.0 is another challenge. One can only overcome this with proper education and clear guidelines in the social media policy. In fact today the biggest challenge for Infosys is also educating employees. Sanjay adds that at Infosys we don’t create policies and push them on employees.
However, Sanjay adds one more challenge to the whole process which is regulating employees from using social networks such as Facebook, etc. Sanjay says that as an organization, client policies and for security issues access has to be restricted. However at Infosys we have built our own networks such as InfyBubble, InfyRadio, etc. for employees to have fun and engage with their colleagues.
Wonder when other software companies are going to follow the model of Infosys. Social media policy is an element that one can’t miss today. However, there are challenges and that can only be met by proper guidance and education. As an organization, one needs to think that implementing regulations won’t help, you need to come up with alternatives as Infosys has done.
I am positive that 2012 will see more of things happening in the employee engagement model and businesses large or small would have to look into them. Already we have seen products like eMee, Peopledock, Kreeo, etc. being developed in India for the Indian market. Indian Businesses are gradually adopting the positives and negatives of the new social wave although there are challenges to be overcome.
We listed some of the challenges that we thought are quite relevant. Perhaps we have missed some, what are the challenges that come to your mind?