Which came first — the chicken or the egg?
Companies beginning to explore social media face a similar catch-22: Should they dive in head first, or wait and develop social media guidelines first?
At a conference a couple years ago, I heard Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, explain it like this: Companies don’t have a telephone policy, so why do you need a Twitter (or social media) policy? Both are communication tools.
Well, that makes a lot of sense. However, for most companies, reality just isn’t that simple. Whether it’s a fear of the unknown, the rate information potentially spreads online, or a hope to maintain some control — there are a host of factors that cause social media-induced ulcers for management.
I recently delivered a day-long social media seminar to a group of public relations professionals, most of whom worked for state organizations. One woman explained that she’s been trying for two years to launch her organization’s Facebook page. But, it’s taken that long to get a social media policy created and approved by HR, legal and the other powers that be. At first, I was surprised that it would take that long to create a policy, but the more I thought about it, I soon realized that’s probably not uncommon of a situation.
So, going back to the original question: MUST companies have a social media policy before engaging online, or would they be better to dip their toes in (maybe even while concurrently developing a policy)? Is it better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission? I’d love your thoughts in the comments section.
5 Resources to Develop a Social Media Policy
- What to Do if You Are Attacked Online: Setting a Social Media Policy for Your Business, from Small Business Trends
- Creating a Social Media Policy, by Deirdre Breakenridge
- How to Write a Social Media Policy, from Inc.com
- Online Database of Social Media Policies (great resource to “borrow” some ideas!)
- Corporate Social Media Policy: Top 10 Guidelines, from SHIFT Communication