Many companies see the power in “social media,” but are afraid for fear they can’t control it. It’s true. You can’t control it. First admit that and start with a strategy for how you will manage it and what policies you’ll establish around it. It is herding cats to try to control social. It’s better to embrace social and help provide guidance, policies and a structure for people who are looking for a platform to evangelize your product or services.
Establish Policies and Guidelines – If there are no rules, then how can you break them? Many employees would like to be able to openly collaborate with other employees but they are afraid because they don’t know what’s against policy. Others will be social and talk at the water cooler or even at lunch in a cafe. “Social” is not new, only the medium for how we do it has changed. If you want to know what Microsoft is up to, all you have to do is hang out at lunch in popular lunch venues. I’m not endorsing that strategy, but you understand what I’m saying. You can gather a lot of information in a lunch time cafe.
Without guidelines that help employees know what’s ok and what’s not… they will use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to share what’s on their mind. In the enterprise, sharing on enterprise social platforms like Yammer, SharePoint and Chatter — the need for policies is just as important. People need to understand what is expected of them. I highly recommend that platforms be established and endorsed to help gather employees to supported platforms. If you want to promote cross departmental collaboration it doesn’t make sense to have IT on one platform and Engineering or Product Development on another. Some companies may compromise with Sales using Chatter, but ultimately the fewer endorsed platforms the better you’ll be for getting the momentum needed to sustain adoption and growth needed for long term success and sustainability.
Policies can be established as an End User Agreement and part of end user security training videos. While it’s true that most people don’t read the EULA it can protect company interests. Work with Legal or LCA to review. They also may have templates that can work to help you get started. In a follow up post I’ll provide some examples that you can use. It’s amazing the variety you’ll see at companies put together very simple guidelines.
Sample #1 – Simple:
1. Don’t do anything stupid that will reflect negatively on the company, partners or customers.
2. If you are tempted to do something stupid refer to rule #1.
Some companies will have fun with the approach helping people understand what is ok to do, and spend less time on what abuse looks like. Others will use the policy to clarify what is already provided in other employee agreements. These can also be captured in an graphic designed to inform such as an infographic or simple 5 step list and periodically shared it as the network gets going. Here’s a simple list.
Your activity in this Enterprise Social Network is governed by the following guidelines:
1. Everything in X Network stays in X Network! (No public posts or Tweets, etc). Confidential information may be shared here ahead of the public, and can not be shared publicly. Violation of the confidentiality clause will result in expulsion from the community and your ability to use these tools.
2. Do not use this network for personal gain such as selling services outside of the business.
3. Be respectful to other members.
4. This network does not have a service level agreement. If you are having a desktop or software problem contact the support desk. There is value in sharing questions or solutions to problems that may be plaguing other users.
5. Don’t do anything stupid that will reflect negatively on you or your company
Scale through Ambassadors and Influencers – In Yammer you’ll find a yambassador program with an approach for promoting adoption, and essentially monitoring the usage or abuse of the platform. This is often overlooked when you dig into failed deployments. Companies that setup the platform and simply expect “social” to happen will experience the pent up demand and then a slowing based on adoption from key influencers acceptance of the platform. The accepted strategy is to build relationships with key influencers and share information and bring them in.
If you’re looking for more examples of policies, the Yammer YCN (Yammer Customer Network) has some great samples as well. Not a member of the YCN? http://yammer.com/ycn request to join!
I write at least once a week for the ViewDo Labs blog and would like to share what I write over there. This was originally posted as “Building the Foundations of Enterprise Social: Policies” on the ViewDo Labs blog.