A Social Media Policy Is Not a Social Business Strategy

It is important that organizations understand the difference between their social media policy and the social business strategy.

A social media policy is generally a written policy that an employer has to address its employees' use of social networking websites. The policies regulate the content that employees are allowed to post on such sites, particularly with regard to comments about the employer's workplace and other employees.

A social business strategy establishes how an organization’s people, process, tools, technology and experience come together to form a long-term plan. The social business strategy defines how an organization’s social media activities tie back to business goals. The strategy also clearly articulates what the organization social activities will, and will not, include.

A large number of organizations do not have a strategic approach to social media or a way of measuring corporate social effectiveness. As evidence, the average midsize or large company (1000+ employees) has 178 “social media assets” (Twitter handles, employee blogs, etc.) - yet only 25% of companies offer social business training to their employees (Marketingeasy). Others have a policy and a plan that employees do not understand. Creating a social business strategy that clearly outlines the vision of what the business needs to do to create and execute along the business road map is the key.

A sound social strategy has an engaged executive sponsor and owner. The lack of an organizational compass – the empowered stakeholder and social strategy - leads to inconsistent execution and results. This does not mean that social advocates and departmental leads do not actively manage their contribution to the program, but rather that the metrics and governance of the social business program should be monitored, collated and reported at a macro level to maintain visibility.

The social business strategy establishes the objectives, goals and metrics for an organization’s program. Below are a number of core activities to consider as part of the organization’s social business strategy and program.

  • Execute a social listening program to understand what the market, your customers and competitors are discussing and what they believe is important. This will inform how to effectively participate and communicate.

  • Benchmark your employees’ social skills and activity level. The baseline will serve as a mechanism to measure progress over time and focus training.

  • Develop an understanding of the channels in which your market, customers and partners experience your social activity to guide the organizations activities. Consider external interviews in addition to social listening to refine your awareness and knowledge.

  • And lastly, communicate what has been learned across the organization through the executive and advocate network to amplify the organization’s social business understanding and continue to break down ‘departmental silos’ and ‘stove pipes.’

Consideration of technology is important to accelerate social activities and the collaboration inherent in social business. However, before further technology investments are undertaken, it is imperative that organizations establish a social business owner and advocate program and define their social business strategy.