Four Essential Elements For a Social Business (The Pillars of Governance)

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As more and more companies are turning to social media to optimize online conversations, real time feedback and better customer engagement, it is essential to get foundations and footings in place that protect the reputation of the business. In the very nature of social, the voice and interpretation of company messages are no longer left to the Public Relations Director or the CEO as open social networks allow for propagation of communication from many sources, official and unofficial.

Online reputation management is now a compliance factor for publically listed companies, however private companies must too set parameters of comfort and outline success for those in the business who might participate in the company narrative.

Like any stable foundation, it is essential to establish tenants or Pillars of Governance that will provide the framework for social business success.


1. Internal Social Media Policy

As your company recognizes the important role that the Internet plays in shaping it’s reputation about your products or services, it is essential that your team are abreast of what is appropriate and not okay as it relates to subject matter expertise, tone, and opinions expressed on official channels like your company’s Facebook Page, official Twitter account, or LinkedIn Page. Your internal social media policy should also articulate the how you will monitor personal social profiles of your staff, how you are using social listening tools to monitor company brand mentions, and the treatment of confidential information on open social networks. If some of your employees have personal blogs, determine how this may be a positive contribution to your online goals, or ask them to ensure their activities are not counter-productive. Either way, it is important that this document covers off what is not permitted but gives positive framework and encourages employees to participate appropriately.

2. House Rules (External Social Policy)

On open social networks like Facebook, it is important (and indeed essential in countries like Australia where legislature has been past mandating page owner liability) to articulate as a business what is and is not appropriate to post. Such items that need to be stated are about quality of content, anti-spam and anti-bullying, and what behavior will result in a banning or a removal of a contributor’s content. For an example of a House Rules policy, see our tab on Facebook. Do know that a third party application for which to house this content on Facebook (in the form of a Tab) on your Fan Page will require a third party plug in and some minor development work. Facebook does not supply this and we can help.

3. Disclaimer Statements

Whilst kept short and succinct, if an employee is identifying themselves in their personal profiles by their company and role for example “Director of Product for Acme”, encourage them to state that their views are not those of the company and any RT’s (retweets) or links shared are not to be considered an endorsement (unless of course if the purpose of the social profile is to express the views of the company).

4. Privacy Policy

Whilst on most websites this is boiler plate copy and has a place for which it is on display, once your business is socializing and collecting any social user profile data, it is important to articulate how the company will use and treat this data, what it will not be doing with the information, and how the information is stored and disposed of. If you do not intent to share or sell the data, articulate that to give your social community peace of mind and establish some trust. If you do intend to share their content (such as the instance of a photo competition) and use it on other channels, spell this out clearly in the terms and conditions.

Establishing these four policies within the business will mitigate social risk as employees are encouraged to become actively involved with an understanding of their roles and responsibilities granted with their privilege of participation.
Got a policy we should add or a great example of social business governance policies? Create some good karma and contribute in the comments below.

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About the Author

Stephenie RodriguezStephenie Rodriguez founded Mighty Media Group, a leading data-driven digital, mobile and social marketing strategy and solutions firm, in 2004 and is currently the company’s Chief Executive Officer. She is also the former publisher of Ocean Drive Magazine (Australia), a speaker and futurist on all aspects of social technology, an evangelist of engagement,  and has advised companies including SSP – The Food Travel Experts, Austereo, JR/DutyFree, Radar Group of Companies, Transfield, Allied Mills, Lincoln Indicators, Income Solutions, and Bayer (Berocca), Toyota, Mercedes Benz, and the UN FAO. You’re likely to find her Tweeting here @digitalgodess or present at events such as #SXSWi, #TFWA, #Tedx and #SocialBiz.