No Tweet Zone

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Employers have not been quick to change their policies when it comes to using Twitter or Facebook on the job. In a recent survey conducted by Robert Half Technology, 1400 CIO's of company's with 100 or more employees were asked about their policies for access to social media websites by employees.

According to CNET, of those surveyed, 55% reported no change, with 23% enacting stricter policies for personal use and 15% implementing stricter policies for business use. The challenge is for employers to find the delicate balance as social media can be a valuable business tool, but obviously it can also be a distraction that could affect productivity in the office. There are also concerns that employees might inadvertantly post sensitive proprietary information.

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to social-networking policies," said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. "To be effective, guidelines should include input from stakeholders throughout the organization, including IT, legal, human resources, marketing, public relations and front-line employees."

Steven Bennett of Jones Day offers some best practices for corporate policies on social networking in a January 5, 2010 article on the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel website.

Some employers recognize the value of social media as a research and communication tool. It is viewed as a way to reach audiences with marketing messages and capitalize on free advertisement. Some employers use Facebook and MySpace as screening tools in their hiring practices. There are varying opinions on if you should completely block the sites. Some want to limit the use, but that is difficult to police. Employees may find other, less-secure ways to access the sites and that can cause other breaches of confidentiality or could hurt the reputation of the company.

Whatever the policy is for a company, it needs to be defined and incorporated into the employee handbook. It should be clear and not ambiguous in it's scope. My employer has people who have been specifically chosen to blog about the company. There is also a company Twitter account, but access to Twitter is blocked. On the other hand, we do have access to Linked In, which is seen more as a professional networking site. Company's have embraced social networking, but at an arms length.


Anonymous,  April 14, 2010 at 7:36 AM  

There shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all method to blocking those social media apps on the network, either.

There's a good whitepaper on the subject. it's called “To Block or Not. Is that the question?”

It has lots of insightful and useful information about identifying and controlling Enterprise 2.0 apps (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, SharePoint, etc.)

It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

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