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As usual, proceeding with the creation of a new policy or plan without a clear mandate from management is a sure route to failure. This is especially true for a relatively new phenomenon such as social networking. In order to succeed, it is imperative that the relevant managers or senior executives are in agreement with the creation of a social networking policy, and kept in the loop on its progress.
Another benefit of seeking an official go-ahead is that it opens the door to two-way communications with the relevant executives at the earliest possible stage. As such, pertinent feedback or concerns can be conveyed from the get-go, even as the direction and scope for the initial draft of your social networking policy is being determined.
One question that is sure to be on the minds of management will be how social networking can help meet business objectives. A caution must be stated at this point: Social networking is about genuine and open interactions. So while it is perfectly fine for a company to expect social networks to help advance its business, this should be done in a manner that does not stifle creativity or exert overbearing control of communication channels.
Sample Social Networking Policy
And where, traditionally, business is premised on the concept of control, "be open, be transparent, be authentic" are pretty much the current leadership mantras in social media, observed Charlene Li in her upcoming book Open Leadership. Li is the founder of Altimeter Group, a digital strategies consultant company. What she is saying, in a nutshell, is that the new world order of social media demands openness.
Within the framework of communications outlined above, very real business benefits can be derived from playing the social media card correctly. For example, social media can help bring about greater effectiveness when it comes to public relations, crisis management or even corporate marketing and brand building.
Assuming a moderate level of success in bringing about bona fide interactions on social media networks, businesses can tap into these additional channels of communication to gain a greater insight with customers to deliver the best possible customer service experience. Forward-looking organizations will also seek to drive improvements within the company this way, with an eye cast toward lead generation.
Finally, organizations seeking to leverage social networking to a whole new level will discard a piecemeal approach, instead examining how they can fuse traditional marketing and PR roles with social networking for greater returns.