Social Networking Policy – Burden or Blessing?

Doing research on social networking policies, I come across a lot of information about companies closing down access to social networks (personal and professional).  Some statistics go as far as saying that 50%+ are blocking these sites (http://rht.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=131&item=790)

Great! No need for a social networking policy, I hear you say.  Wrong!  Your company’s image can still be tarnished in a number of ways by your “social networking ignorant” employees (pardon the expression).   By the way social networking is not only done by the sales and marketing departments…

Social networks are a given and everyone wants to participate.  Just take a look at these statistics (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics) from Facebook.  There is an interesting piece of information at the bottom of this page which I will come to in a minute.

Your employees are going to particpate in social networking whether you like it or not.   Closing down access might not be the best route to take.  Here are two examples of where dangers lie.

First, we are encouraging people to work from home to reduce traffic, CO2 and even time usage, but is that not an ideal opportunity for anyone to spend time on social networks?

Mobile phone and facebook

Secondly, the usage of smartphones especially promoted to take part in social networking  are here to stay and guess what? They can be and are used during office hours.  How are you going to close this down?

So thinking about a social networking strategy must be on your agenda.  To protect your company’s image as well as have clear rules of engagement with your employees about the usage of social networking.

Follow a positive approach meaning inform, collaborate and agree with all parties involved (not just HR putting together a number of restrictive rules) what makes sense for your company.

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