Shel Holtz discusses the merits of establishing social media guidelines for your company. Inspired after he read Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt's post where Hyatt explains why companies don't need a social media policy.
Hyatt had given five reasons why your company doesn't need a social media policy:
* Your people can be trusted.
* Social media are just one more way to communicate.
* More rules only make your company more bureaucratic.
* Formal policies only discourage people from participating.
* You probably already have policies that govern inappropriate behavior.
Shel agreed that rules might be a bad idea for employees, but he thought guidelines are helpful to employees in giving employees a baseline of what to do and what not to do in social media.
I agree, even though every company probably has sufficient employee rules covering how to talk in public without revealing company secrets or conducting inappropriate behavior I think all employees today need social media training.
The Jeremy Hermanns incidence has always been a great example of why social media training is needed for all employees. Jeremy Hermanns was a passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight and the flight went through decompression, everyone on the plane was okay. After the flight Jeremy posted pictures on his blog that he had taken during the incident and he wrote about the experience. He received hundreds of positive comments, but one or two negative comments, those comments came from a location with an Alaska Airlines IP address. I suspect they were written by employees who were not in the communications department and probably did not have any training in media relations. If they had, the comments might not ever have appeared.
I'm with Shel on this one, guidelines can help everyone in the company, even practiced communicators, but social media guidelines have to be accompanied by an effective training program.