Instead of cracking down on staff using Twitter and Facebook at work, firms will soon be exploiting social networking’s business potential and drafting policies to control its use. Andrew Donoghue reports.
The days of companies being able to dismiss social networking as a consumer issue are numbered. That’s the outlook from analyst companies including Gartner group, which predicts by 2014 social media will replace email in about 20 per cent of businesses.
Rather than trying to stamp out social media use, companies may actually look to build their own social networking platforms, or at least take greater advantage of existing sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
In a recent research note, Gartner vice president Matt Cain said the rigid distinction between email and social networks will erode. “Email will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer email capabilities,” he wrote.
Given this outlook, it appears those companies that have dodged making explicit decisions about social network use will soon have to face up to the issue. According to anecdotal evidence from IT consultancy Accenture and technology-specialist law firm Morrison & Foerster, about 50 per cent of companies have a social media policy in place. The rest have some catching up to do.
Most companies will already have policies in place to govern staff use of technology such as email and the web generally. They will also probably have codes of conduct for behaviour both within the company and with external partners and clients. But social media sites have the ability to cross the boundary between what is traditionally deemed business activity and an employee’s personal life.
This blurring of lines creates challenges not only for developing a policy but for which department should be charged with managing it. Is social media use an issue for IT or HR exclusively, or does the new medium cross departmental lines?
silicon.com asked several experts for their perspectives on whether social media policies are really necessary and, if so, how to go about developing them.
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