Social Business Policy: Defining the Role of the CIO

A clear social business policy is an essential guide for employees using social and collaboration tools for customer engagement and for internal or partner collaboration.

While it takes a cross-organizational team to establish a social business policy, CIO’s play an increasingly important role in the development of an effective policy:

 - Steering the policy creation process
 - Embedding the policy in tools and training
 - Working with other to educate and certify employees for social engagement

A Tool For Managing Risk and Increasing Opportunity
The concerns that drive the need for a social business policy are not new. Maintaining security, privacy, compliance, and intellectual capital have been legal and organizational imperatives for a very long time.

But with new tools designed to share information very broadly and quickly, having an ineffective or missing social business policy presents enormous risks and can result in missed opportunities.

If data governance is a huge concern to your company, so may be the threat of legal exposure, lawsuits and fines.

If that’s the case, social policy should take steps to make sure employees know what they can and cannot disclose to each other, or to customers or partners, and what they can and cannot post on social media.

Inadvertent or malicious damage to the brand is also a major risk. A social policy provides clear guidance to employees on what can and cannot be shared on social platforms like a team site, company blog, Twitter or Facebook.

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And beyond policy, creating a world-class social communication training program to engage with customers and teach employees how to speak over Twitter, Facebook, and blogs is an effective way to mitigate these risks.

The last thing a company should want is to shut down its prime source of value: its people. With the proper guardrails in place, employees will know what the boundaries are on using technology to solve customer problems.

It is worth noting that the absence of policy makes it easier for employees to act inappropriately in social forums and also discourages many employee advocates from speaking up in a positive way. By contrast, an effective policy empowers employees to act as company advocates.

Internal and External Communications
Employees use blogs, wikis, or community software to work with other employees and customers. A single policy should cover both situations.

Guidance on external communication is about staying on message: The social business policy should make it clear that when you speak, you speak on behalf of your employer, even on personal accounts in the public domain like Twitter.

Guidance on internal communication is about being professional: If you wouldn’t say it over a megaphone in the lunchroom at work, then don’t say it via an internal blog post or comment. That’s professionalism, and the social business policy needs to hold people accountable to that standard.

Accountability: IT’s Role
For any of this to work, employees must be held accountable for violations of the policy.