Collaborate to Develop an Effective Social Media Policy

By Harris, Paula | Information Management, September/October 2011 | Go to article overview

Collaborate to Develop an Effective Social Media Policy


Harris, Paula, Information Management


Information assets have become the new currency for successful enterprises and, in some cases, outweigh the value of physical assets. This places records and information management (RIM) professionals in the midst of a unique time and opportunity to add value to their organizations.

At the same time, emerging technologies impacting the management of these information assets are evolving rapidly and, in some cases, fundamentally changing the way RIM professionals work. The introduction of social media within the business environment, for example, represents a sea change that is comparable to the introduction of personal computers, the Internet, and e-mail.

This provides RIM professionals a prime opportunity to effectively partner with IT, legal, and other business units to manage the content being delivered through social media channels.

Social Media: The Business Imperative

Business drivers for leveraging social media vary by organization, but the most common ones are:

* Customer engagement - Social media's reach and level of engagement with consumers and customers are unprecedented. Whether using Facebook to engage a brand community, leveraging Twitter to inform constituents of coupons or other cost-saving opportunities, or utilizing Linkedln to connect employees, the old ways of working are drifting away.

Print media is quickly being replaced by online content. Social media presents a unique opportunity to consumers to have a more personal and immediate experience with the brands and services they use. As a result, social media provides a channel to create more brand loyalty and ultimately, to enhance revenue generation.

* Recruiting and retaining employees - The demographics of the workplace are changing, and astute leaders realize the workforce of today and tomorrow expect to use at work the same productivity tools they use at home.

* Revenue enhancement and market presences - Social media is relatively easy and inexpensive to deploy. An organization's competitors can leverage social media to reach millions of people almost instantly to encourage them to buy their products instead. Organizations that do not participate could lose their competitive advantage, which ultimately affects their bottom line.

The success of an organization's social media strategy and policy is predicated upon a well-thought-out business case. While the organization's leadership team is responsible for articulating the organization's vision for using social media, it will depend upon those individuals with information governance expertise to partner with them to ensure that vision is realized with as little risk to the organization as possible.

However, the RIM staff may not be thought of as that business strategy partner; it may be perceived as having expertise only in the areas of retention and storage. To change this perception, the RIM team must be well-versed in all things social media, which includes understanding trends in how individuals are using social media and the rules that govern its usage.

The RIM team must also temporarily remove its compliance hat and engage the leadership team so it will understand the goals for using social media and can communicate its risks. RIM professionals that have done their homework in this area will not only be able to support the organization's business objectives, they will also raise their visibility as "go to" people that can be relied upon to provide assistance on future initiatives.

Social Media: Policy Development Considerations

Once the benefits for using social media have been identified and vetted by the business, RIM professionals, in collaboration with IT and legal, can assess the risks and determine strategies to minimize them.

As with retention schedule development and implementation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and, as with any policy, developing social media policy should not be done in a vacuum. …

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Collaborate to Develop an Effective Social Media Policy
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