Social Media Policies – Carrots not Sticks

I will be discussing social media policies next month at a Alameda County Bar Association presentation with Jessica Braverman an employment attorney specializing in this area of employment law.

Engagement policy versus restrict policy

Isn’t it better to have employers creating a great work culture so that rather than controlling and restricting social media use by their workforce they would gain a competitive edge by unleashing the social media potential of their workforce to every corner of the Internet selling their company, brand and products.?

Two of two companies

Wal-mart highly restricts their official social media presence to less than 20 official Twitter profiles.  They also have an official blog.  Wal-mart clearly identify to their customers the handful of official social media representatives of their company.  They obviously don’t trust their employees to act as social media evangelists.  What if each store had its own social media publicist or perhaps every department in that store had them.  Say these folks had a couple hundred Twitter followers and could publicize when a hot product gets delivered to the store and at the lowest available price?  Seems like this would be extremely powerful advertising.  No doubt, Wal-Mart is afraid of losing control.  What if those “evangelists” went rogue and posted negative messages?  Or what if they people retweeted in a negative way?

Dell has a different approach

The computer maker has developed an a training course through a social media university that allows any of its employees to take classes and get certified.  More than 9,000 have taken those classes and more than 1,000 are now certified and disseminating their Dell positive messages in appropriate fashion on the Internet.  Clearly this approach requires great trust in your workers.  It also requires confidence that the training is effective in letting employees lose on the Internet.  But really, even if an employee is unhappy at their job, the worst thing they could do if they are moving to another company, is to provide negative public postings about a current or previous employer.  Not something any prospective employer wants to see.

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