from the editor
In researching this month’s topic, we discovered that a lot of companies are struggling to get a handle on establishing guide- lines for social media use, particularly with regard to ethics and
reputation. Approaches seemed to vary dramatically, even among
those organizations considered to be following best practices. Let’s
look at two of the cases we encountered.
In the case of what we’ll call Company A, considered by many to be a best practice leader, corporate social media guidelines were minimal,
basic and clear. A representative from the company described one situation in which a well-respected longtime employee accidentally said
too much in a social media exchange and was
dismissed as a result. The same was true of
another employee who inadvertently, yet innocently, said too much about the company in a
client meeting. In both cases it appeared that no
real damage was done to the company, but the
perceived risk and subsequent firings served as an
example to others of what not to do.
Company B, also considered to be a best practice leader, had an entirely different approach. It
seemed to focus more on the gray areas around
social media ethics, and provided detailed information and extensive guidance around engagement and expectations with the use of social
media. In terms of penalty, the company considered the intent of the employee as much as it did
the behavior. The representative from the company said directly that they would never fire someone for making
an innocent mistake.
Interestingly, both companies indicated that their approach to
social media ethics was effective and that violations were rare. I
suppose that’s part of what makes them best practice leaders—
nothing has gone terribly wrong. But the contrast gave me pause.
“There’s much more
work to be done to
how organizations can
become more adept
at tackling the tricky
ethical issues that
come up with social
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