November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Brain Waves

On a conference call today for a speaking event, “Social Media Policy” set for Thur., October 3 at CCSU’s Institute of Technology and Business Development (ITBD), the speakers discussed the most important points to relay during the hour long panel discussion. I was energized by the level of thoughtfulness in the conversation. My co-panelists include Shipman & Goodwin partner and super social media star Dan Schwartz, savvy operations and HR expert Jessica Rich of The Walker Group and the always-sharp Rob Guinness, e-communications manager at Pratt & Whitney.

When I was first asked to sit on the panel it crossed my mind that this might be a tough topic to attract business owners to. For companies still waving social media away like they would a fly buzzing around potato salad, I could see them looking at this topic and moving on.

Aside from promising you a tremendous amount of insight and direct experience from an all-star panel, I’d like to share a sneak peek into what we’ll be serving up in next week’s discussion. Businesses of all sizes will find this discussion extremely useful. Here are five topics of discussion that we’ll cover:

“Information wants to be free.”

As coined by Dan Schwartz (and now a new quotable of mine), the old days of firewalls and controlling information are gone. If controlling the message was plan A, what’s plan B? It’s understanding how to work within an open information age, not against it. A social media policy can serve as a way for your team to achieve 100% clarity on what it means for your company and brand to be engaged in online communities, and what you do and do not want that to look like.

A “policy” can be liberating.

Rob from Pratt & Whitney will share how their social media policy and guidelines clearly define levels of users: Individuals, Agents and Personas. Each user level has different access permissions and guidelines around what it means, in their role, to engage with the outside world. Looked at from a cultural standpoint, each level can also be seen as a career motivator. If you are an employee that sees its company supporting thought leadership through persona development, that’s an aspiring place to work. Fathom worked with Rob and his team on their policy and since that time, we have found that other clients see value in this approach.

Management and HR can better do their job.

Although it’s in the minority, triage situations do happen and are increasing. Employees are making dreadful blunders in social media — from a video of an employee reading their company’s strategy to disparaging remarks that go viral. Dan can speak to landmark cases and how a well-formed policy can help head off sticky legal situations. Jessica can speak from the chair of the HR pro and share both best practices and direct experiences.

For social media newbies, policies are a great first step.

For those companies that do want to be engaged (or more engaged) in social media, a policy is a great conversation starter. It forces you and your team to ask the big questions about how you want to be “out there.” It also allows for social media education and training, not to mention an opportunity to revisit existing policies, like code of conduct and communications.

A policy can be as little or as big as you need it.

If you’re a two-man band, your policy will look very different from a 30,000 employee or even a 10 employee company. Best practices can be across the board, from what to consider in how/who responds to commentary online or how to distinguish employee opinion from company statements. But, the extent of what’s necessary to include in a policy and how deep your guidelines need to be will vary.

What we bring to the event in insight is important but, equally so, will be what you need to know from us during the Q&A session. If you’re in Connecticut, I hope you’ll join us next Thursday, October 3. If you can’t be there, what questions do you have around social media policy? Your questions would be of tremendous help us during our discussion as well.

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Posted by: Suzi Craig
Email the author: suzi@fathom.net