Social Media is now in your face; there’s no getting away from it. For a user it means connecting with friends, sharing pictures, tagging people, scoring in social games, etc. In this social world, brands have also penetrated to connect with their users. The brand tries to reach out wherever you go by trying to build a positive brand image. But is it always so rosy? Not always, says Swati Bhattacharya, VP Corporate Relations at Ingersoll Rand who thinks that social media is a double edged sword where negative sentiments spread like forest fire.
Why do we need a Social Media Policy?
But let’s park the good and bad part of it for now and visualize a small example. Kunal, an employee who works in an IT company is not impressed by his salary hike. So he tweets some cheap rumors about his manager. I know that most of us think it is cool and at some point of time, we might have done the same but think again – can we go and bash our colleagues, employer, etc. on social networking sites? We did have a few incidents in the past and the latest one about ITC suing Suhel Seth makes it all the more imperative for brands, whether it is MNC’s or SMEs, to have a social media policy. Indian brands are fast buckling themselves for this mammoth task and gradually implementing a Social Media policy.
Factors influencing the transition imperative
However, one might think that is it just one of the factors to have a policy or are there any more. Robin Jacob Abraham, co-founder of Drizzlin Media does have a couple of influencing factors that he thinks is making this transition imperative.
a) Employees are talking anyway irrespective of however much control businesses are executing so it is any way better to implement a policy that guides your employees on what can be spoken about and what cannot and also helps them tackle uncomfortable/potentially critical situations.
b) Today for a lot of businesses, going social is critical to driving business. With the rise of the LinkedIns, Facebooks and the Twitters of the world, the opportunities to connect and explore opportunities is immense. What can be better than enabling your work force to capitalize on these opportunities?
The second influencing factor shared by Robin is an avenue that companies need to dig deep in. Robin further shares a great example of Cemex Shift and how it has used the opportunity:
Organizations have realized that such connections allow them to lower cycle times, faster time to market, and real-time process improvement. Cemex’ Shift is one such example. Employees feel empowered and thus are more likely to be highly productive as well.
Is having a Social Media policy enough?
However, one will accept that to make such opportunities work, an employer also needs to educate and create awareness amongst employees. Personally, I think any policy makes no sense if there is no awareness created for the people who would be affected by it.
Jessie Paul, CEO at PaulWriter shares the amazing story of Dell where a rigorous program is conducted on social media for its employees. Employees are made aware of the do’s and don’ts of social media and also awarded certificates on successful completion. Going further a Dell employee has an official Dell Twitter handle so that people online are aware of it.
Dell is also an example of employee empowerment for sales says Robin. In his opinion, Dell understands that every employee has a sphere of influence and any conversation in that network around PCs can be curated to give the consumer good choices.
Undoubtedly, Dell and IBM employers have set benchmarks in terms of creating awareness and educating employees rather than imposing a social media policy. Although employee’s relationship with employers is crucial, employee relationship with customers also matters. Robin shares an example of Cognizant that explains more:
We all know that social media has given the powers of real time access of information and with the rise of social media and real time access to information, customers also want issues to be resolved in almost real time. Cognizant does a brilliant job by collating employee blogs, tweets and chats onto a platform called C2. Any issue faced by a customer now only requires them to access this platform to post queries, search blogs or read tweets. If the issue hasn’t been resolved earlier, the employee force gets to answer it immediately.
I believe by now we might be thinking alike that if employees are empowered by social media, an employer can benefit immensely. I also believe that before we do this, an employer shouldn’t just impose a social media policy but also create enough awareness and educate employees. Examples shared above by Robin and Jessie should be considered by employers and researched further.
Challenges to overcome
But in implementing a social media policy there are quite a few challenges an employer faces which I am going to discuss in my next post. Till then do let us know how effective social media policy has been in your organization, if it has one. We would like to listen to your thoughts on a subject that will be mandatory in the coming years in India.