Scene one: “Why can’t Rajesh follow the rules?” said the CEO, exasperated with his sales head’s tweet as a reaction to the Union Budget, which was announced earlier in the day. He was venting in front of his Chief Communications Officer (CCO).
The CCO had reached out to key stakeholders and organised a joint budget viewing meeting, which included the CEO, CFO, Strategy Head and the CCO. Once the budget speech finished, everyone had agreed on the talk points after carefully looking at each aspect of the budget. The CEO had just concluded an interview with CNBC, where he spoke about how the budget would provide the much-needed impetus to the economy and increase spending. This would help in-turn lead to demand revival in the business. However, the sales head on his own had tweeted about the budget and called it a failure. His tweet said that few provisions in the budget would hurt the business and decrease the demand further.
The CEO added, “Despite such elaborate planning, we will come across as an organisation in which the CEO and the sales head do not see eye to eye.”
“Doesn’t your social media policy cover such situations? He looked at the CCO and asked. The CCO did not respond as she knew that it was a rhetorical question. They had hired the one of the best PR firms to develop the social media policy for the company. The policy had been rolled out six months ago. The roll-out included a series of emailers and posters to familiarise the employees with the policy details.
Scene 2: “Bro, I will leave this company and work somewhere else. They don’t deserve me.” Sanjay was talking to his childhood friend. He was thoroughly confused as to why he was pulled up for protecting the reputation of the company. He could not believe that the company had even issued him a formal warning! According to him, he would have failed in his duty if he had not checked the person who was spreading rumours about his company’s products. In the ensuing online discussion with the rumour monger, things got a bit heated and Sanjay lost his temper and gave him a piece of his mind. The social media erupted with a widespread criticism of the way a company representative handled a customer. He was a good and loyal employee but he left the company a couple of months later. His company also had a robust social media policy and he was aware that a policy existed. However, he had not bothered to go through it.
We have all seen some horrible social media posts and campaigns, even by reputed companies. It is safe to assume that most companies will have social media policies in place. Despite having best consultancies working for them and having elaborate social media policies, they have to face social media #fails. There could be several reasons for these fails but for this article let us assume that we have a social media policy in place but somehow it is not being followed by a section of employees. Let us explore possible reasons and the solutions to counter these failures.
To simplify the issues connected with social media policy fails, lets divide them into three categories – issues related with the formulation of the policy itself, issues arising due to inadequate awareness and understanding of the policy and the last being insufficiencies in monitoring and enforcing it.
I will cover how the lack of awareness and understanding of the policy could be tackled in this article and the other two portions next week. Just preparing a robust policy and publishing it on the company intranet is not sufficient to ensure compliance. A majority of the policy fails stem from the lack of awareness about what is required to be done by the employees as a consequence of the policy guidelines.
Given the devastating reputational impact that social media fails can result in, company social media policies should be treated with the same seriousness as some other policies such as the Anti Bribery policy or the Sexual Harassment policy. I know that you are thinking that it would be too much to expect! So, let’s say that even if the company devotes 50% of the effort that it employs to ensure awareness and adherence of the above two policies, to spreading awareness about the Social Media policy and its implications, the objective would be easily achieved. Consider the following: The CEO sends out an email directing every employee to follow the policy, every new employee goes through the social media policy in detail and also signs an undertaking that she/he has understood the policy and promises to follow it, there are awareness campaigns sponsored by senior management to explain the policy, the company brings in external speakers to talk about best practices, and so on. These are some of the ways in which companies approach Anti Bribery policies. I am sure that you got the drift…. I will cover the rest in part two of the article.
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