From last week post ‘How can you get senior executives mandate Enterprise 2.0?’ , we concluded that business executives need IT people to well present benefits as well as  risks of  Social Media Networks (SMNs) before they approve and support its use. We also discussed briefly how implementing policies for SMNs can be an important tool to control and alleviate some of these risks. Today, we will elaborate more on this topic.

Dion Hinchcliffe  is an Enterprise Social Media expert. He writes periodically on SMNs . A few months ago, Dion states in his weekly post that  ‘One of the biggest issues I’m seeing is that social media, when it becomes a company-wide topic, rather quickly draws in the involvement of HR, legal, compliance, corporate communications, IT, and at least a couple of representatives from the lines of business. This sudden “coming together” obscures the exact location of ownership of social within the enterprise. This, combined with the difficulties of coordination of cross-functional sign-off on the requisite policy, governance, technology, and process issues, can often bog down efforts before they ever really begin,

This statement lists many issues facing the implementation of corporate-wide SMNs. However, we will focus on one issue which is ‘drafting policy’. If you need more insight in policy usage; you may take a look at previous posts where we explained what policies means and an example of Social Media policy statements.

Drafting policies for internal and\or external use of SMNs is a challenging task. However, don’t reinvent the wheel, you can brows other SMNs policies that been posted on other companies’ websites like IBM or Google . Moreover, Rooksby  (2009) list some recommendations in this issue:

  •  Learn how employees communicate and share, ask why and how people communicate and share.
  •  Understand the organization’s structure and learn where there are barriers to communication.
  •  Understand the legal and regulatory issues around information sharing.
  •  How do laws such as the data protection act, industrial regulation and organizational policy
           shape the possibilities for information sharing and communication.

However, these are still general recommendations and  lack the know-how framework .If we exclude static legal and liability statements (usually the same for most corporate –wide policy documents), the rest is to a great extend a  blurrily territory of SMNs use and very hard to regulate (ex. personal vs. business use of SMNs, the time we spend on using SMNs, network security issues, monitoring activities..act) .Accountemps, the world’s first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance , conducted an large-scale survey in late 2010 and  reported that 59 percent of 1400 interviewed chief financial officers (CFOs) stated that their greatest concern of social networking site use in the workplace employees is the wasting time on SMNs (MOQBEL, 2012).In fact, the nature of this technology that we trying to regulate are constantly changing (dynamic) since there are so many SMNs products coming everyday to market with different functionality and use.

As SMN’s policy maker deals with many social, legal, technological and business variables, they clearly can’t make a general corporate-wide Social Media policy for all SMNs or even for each Industry. I fact , if a group of businesses belong to the same industry such as retails  ,  the context is different for each business in term of business environment, business processes, legality, products…act. For example, malls, convenience store, E-retailers, vending machines…act.

The Policy Development Life Cycle (PDLC) for SMNs is a hot topic in Information Systems and Policy studies since there are many issues other than what we did cover in this post. However, the question is what businesses should do? Should they wait until these issues and risks are resolved by well-established regulations and policies ? , I think looking at the half full glass with a focuse on benefits will be the best choice;  businesses can’t afford not to be part of this phenomenal because it will lose competitive edge eventually.

  We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media; the Question is how well we Do it – Erik Qualman (Qualman, 2010)

but how you feel about that !



Rooksby, J., Kahn, A. W., Keen, J., & Sommerville, I. (2009). Social networking and the workplace. Strategic Direction, 25(8), 20-23.
Qualman, E. (2010). Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business: Wiley.