You can’t fix stupid. Sorry. This is my fundamental skepticism of depending on corporate policies to control [sic] behavior on social media.

I’m not a huge fan of rules of any kind, especially when it comes to social media. That being said, I’m beginning to develop an appreciation for social media policies as a way to help businesses, brands, and causes focus their work in the age of influence through digital communications. 

Let me just be honest for a moment.

The goal of corporate policies is always to … 

  • Document decisions.

  • Minimize risk.

  • Prevent “worse-case scenario” from happening.

If everyone has a script, then we’ll all know what to say and do and when to say it and do it, right? WRONG! … especially when it comes to social media.

You can’t engineer humanity.

Social media is about being social, so it begins with being human. Humans are spontaneous, creative, and emotional beings. Anything that takes away from those elements cuts at the very core of what makes social media such a powerful tool of influence.

Instead of thinking about social media policies as a way to restrict behavior, consider writing a social media policy that … 

  • Empowers individuals to leverage their personalities and strengths to benefit the brand or cause.

  • Implements a shared responsibility recognizing that every employee is a spokesperson for the company.

  • Encourages individuals to grow and learn in the midst of “doing” social media.

Ask a different, better question.

Some of you HR types are screaming right now. The question you’re asking is: should every employee, participant, or brand representative use social media? (Do you hear the desire to restrict again? Hard to think differently, isn’t it?) Maybe the better question is: why hire or enlist someone you’re not comfortable representing you in social media?

Social media policies are good when they clarify and encourage a common commitment and respect for this important medium of influence. Social media policies are not helpful when they attempt to pseudo-retrict certain people because they might say something they shouldn’t or do something that reflects negatively on the brand itself. 

The fallacy is those people are already doing it. (But that’s another blog post in itself.)

Do you have a social media policy? If so, why did you create one? Has it been helpful?

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