According to a report by eMarketer, 4 out of every 5 computer users use social media platforms actively. Under such an influence, it is quite easy to depict the scene of requirement of a social media policy inside an organization, even though some of these organizations may never have considered social media within their direct working parameter.
Why NOT a policy?
As per the data from MarketingProfs, 35% companies still don’t have any written social media policy in practice.
Another interesting report from Online Marketing Institute reveals that on being asked “Why NOT”, 25% of the respondents answered that they are not sure about what to include. Next 13% says that it has not been addressed ever. And 9% still thinks that a social media policy is not important at all.
Why a policy?
The first & foremost reason to be equipped with a definite social media policy irrespective of the fact whether your organization plays actively around the social media or not, is to define and protect the image and ethics of your organization. It is strictly required to protect the proprietary and confidential information. Failing which will definitely add to the brand degradation movements contributed by unhappy employees and staffs on/through social networking portals.
As my fellow editorial team member Mike McClure says in his article, a social media policy is actually for the protection of both the employer and the employees. McClure further adds that such a policy is of vehement capacity to reflect your brand image and should be included within the branding efforts of the organization.
A social media policy is also a must from the community standpoint of the organization. Depending upon the work culture, styles and the environment, an organization needs to device a definite policy that protects the mass interest.
A defined structure is always of the primary requisite when it comes to the value part. Without a definite policy, adding value (from a sustainable point of view) is impossible. A social media policy in place adds to the value part that an organization possesses.
The Types or Models of a Social Media Policy:
None can deny the ever growing importance of social media and so the importance of having a defined social media policy. Now the question arises ‘what type of social media policy is actually required!’ Without defining the type all other factors would go mere vague.
In general, there are two types of social media policies, viz. - Floating and Fixed. Depending upon certain factors like the role, amount and purpose, an organization can either go for a floating type of policy or a fixed one.
Floating policy: This type of social media policy is evolutionary in nature. Such a policy develops as the organization learns from the different situations pertaining to social media that arises in the due course of time. This is the most opportunistic approach of having a social media policy in place. Depending upon the applied model (whether it is a Tower, Tier or Hub & Spoke one), organizations can benefit in 3 totally different ways while adopting a floating policy.
Most of the companies adopting social media lately are widely considering this floating type of policy in their practices due to the flexibility it provides.
Fixed policy: Though social media itself is evolutionary in nature, yet there are companies who want their policies to be clearer and direct. This is the most beneficial type of policy for the companies/organizations having large number of employees. For example, companies like CNN, Dell, IBM etc. use such fixed policies.
There are some very good examples of large organizations where they had suffered some great losses as they didn’t have any policy (better say a fixed policy) at a particular social media disaster time. Dominoz once lost some million dollars as a video by two employees on hygiene standard went viral on YouTube. Later company took that video down and penalized the employees. That incident could be stopped long back even at the thought level only if Dominoz would have a fixed social media policy in place.
Whether it is a floating or fixed social media policy that an organization sticks to, it should be selected through a filtered process to yield the best possible results. The process includes the phases like the defining the base, preparation of the blueprint, participation and finally the integration. With all these phases a policy either floating or fixed comes into an existence and the imbalance in or in between them leads to a failure only.
In my Next Article, named 'The Process of Creating a Social Media Policy', read how all the types of social media policies are being created.