Most of us have all heard of the proverb that goes something like, “The one who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, he is a fool……..” I am a big fan of this one as it can easily be used to fit the archetypes of people in an organisation who refuse to follow social media policies.
Let us begin by examining the first of these species or archetype – “The one who knows not, and knows not that he knows not.” This archetype is the most dangerous of them all. These are usually junior to mid-level employees who have been with the company for several years and are either posted in a regional office or in the field. They are loyal to the company but are strongly opinionated on what is right and what is wrong. And, as they ‘know’ what is the right thing to do, there is very little chance that they will be limited by a piece of document called social media policy. They have not heard about it and don’t think they need it. It is like having a foolish friend, who is more dangerous than a wise enemy as he is unpredictable and may cause damage to the reputation of the company without even knowing about it. However, given their loyalty to the company and to their reporting manager or the department head, they will ensure compliance, if specifically asked to do so. The best way to get such people on your side is to co-opt them – make them responsible to ensure adherence to the policy. If you make them compliance champions, you can be confident that they will work towards preventing policy violations with dedication and will also report all violations. And it is not difficult to identify such people. In most cases, their reputation precedes them. Please refer to scene 2 in the first part of this article.
Let’s move to the second archetype – The one who knows, but pretends that he knows not, he is cunning! This type is typically found in the corporate office and is pretty senior, either a CXO or CXO minus one level. These executives are focussed on self-promotion and have a significant number of loyal followers on social media. They cannot resist the urge to post their point of view on everything under the sun- from government policy, to matters related to armed forces, to animal rights, to nationalism, and so on. They know fully well that they are not allowed to violate company policy but their top-notch head hunter friend has advised them to be more visible on social media platforms. After all, there is something called thought leadership and they are thought leaders, aren’t they! They are gunning for a CEO post in the next few years. The CEO would not want to directly confront them on this issue as they are senior leaders. When the Corporate Communications leader takes up this matter with them, their typical reply is, “I am so sorry, my friend, I had no clue that I violated the policy. We should set up sometime where you can share the dos and don’ts with me. I promise to consult you in advance next time I post something. Given their seniority in the system, they are smart enough to not get the company into trouble, but their point of views are sometimes at variance with the company stand on those issues. This variety is very difficult to reign in. However, one way to get them onboard is to get a KRA added to every senior leader’s yearly goals, which is related to achievement of a social media goal for the organisation. Also, get an independent third party to monitor progress and share report with their peer group.
Moving on to the third architype – The one who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a student. There may be a large percentage of employees who are aware of the policy and have read it but still have a lot of questions. This is an important group as you can get authentic and safe brand ambassadors from this lot. They are genuinely interested in finding out what is right and what is wrong and do not want to violate the policy. For them, one can prepare a comprehensive Q&A, with as many possible queries answered such as, how do I ensure that I am not violating confidentiality policy; what if I want to write a blog on issues not connected with company business; is it okay if I am aggressive with people that I disagree with on religious matters, if I respond when I am not in office premises or outside of office hours; and so on. I suggest that if you are rolling out a new social media policy, you can even think of arranging for a limited time helpline to answer queries. Once these people are clear on the dos and don’ts, they can be your biggest assets on social media. They can be great brand ambassadors for the company.
There are obviously other archetypes but in my experience, the three mentioned above will be the most crucial to manage. Before I close, I must re-iterate that it is imperative that the social media policy becomes a part of the onboarding kit and every new joinee should be made to go through it in detail. Also, all employees should go through a refresher at least once every year.
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