Harvard Business Review recommends that companies develop a formal social media policy in its latest November edition. Employees should take responsibility for their postings, clearly indicating when opinions are their own and not the firm’s. Posts should be factual and the poster’s identity disclosed.
Employees must be aware of and respect the legal and professional framework that governs firm behaviour, Harvard Business review says.
In essence this is fine, but certain members of a company cannot just be restricted to factual comments. Members of a media team might want to challenge the interpretation that a blogger has made about a particular news development. Also, a successful social media strategy and policy involves nuturing communities; supporting people who are already your fans. You are not going to do that by just being factual.
The other point that Harvard Business Review does not address is the fact that many policies governing company communications don’t even acknowledge the existence of social media, and they therefore need to be updated, but in a way which is in tune with the culture of social media. What’s the point in companies adopting practices which, for example, could send them down the path of the music industry which fought downloads and failed to quickly adjust to the culture of social media. Companies need communications policies which satisfy legal requirements but not at the cost of alienating their online customers and causing bad relations with hugely inflential bloggers.