A Ticket To Ride

Oct 04, 2011
Dan Christ

You have to prove you can drive a car before the state will let you tool down the highway. Maybe we should have to pass a test before we’re allowed to open a social media account.

The test wouldn’t be hard. If you can consciously decide how the account will be used, what information will be posted and why, and how requests for connections will be handled, a social media policy license is yours for the taking.

Cumberland County District Judge Thomas A. Placey would have saved himself some grief by answering those questions before the press called.

As reported last month, Judge Placey lived an open Facebook life. He accepted every friend request, and kept his profile open to all.

As an elected district judge, it was a “policy” ripe for trouble.

When one of Judge Placey’s Facebook “friends,” Barry Horn, Jr., appeared before him in court and the judge continued the hearing, Horn’s detractors were not happy.  A Google search followed by a scan of Judge Placey’s friend list turned up the connection between the judge and defendant.

In his defense, Judge Placey did not know Horn, Jr., but had been a friend of Horn’s deceased father. Regardless, the appearance of an improper connection led to more trouble for the judge than that friend connection likely was worth.

As a result of the dust up, including the local district attorney weighing in on whether or not he would ask Judge Placey to recuse himself from the case, the judge appears to have modified his personal social media policy.

When asked by a reporter about his previous use of Facebook, Judge Placey said: “You can go on, you can see how much I post. I’m one that doesn’t really use it. Someone says you want to be my friend, I say yes. You could be a Facebook friend of mine, I wouldn’t know it.”

Now, less than a week after that quote appeared, the judge’s profile is locked down. He earned his license the hard way.

Has your business?

Have you crafted a social media policy for your business? The process of working through layers of management hierarchy, not to mention legal considerations can be arduous, but taking the time to get the entire team on board in advance will be invaluable down the road.

Has somebody at your business taken the time to think about how it wants its employees to use social media, what information may be shared, when it may be shared, and by whom?

Managers and supervisors know employees use social media sites while at work. Look at your co-workers’ activity during business hours if you don’t think he or she is tweeting, tumbling, or updating their status while on the proverbial clock.

How many employees keep top of mind that, as Amy Howell of Howell Marketing said at Social Slam in Knoxville last April, every social media post is essentially a blind carbon copy to the world.

If your business has a policy, has it been communicated with your employees? Have you held open meetings where questions can be asked and real-world situations used as examples to illustrate the power and peril of posting publicly about work?

Some businesses thought ahead.

Last July, the BBC revised its social media policy to mandate that every tweet related to news reporting must be reviewed by two people before it is sent. The NHL just announced a new policy instituting a total social media black out on game days, among other guidelines.

If your company needs to craft a social media policy, where should you start?

One essential stop in any policy journey should be Social Media Governance’s policy database featuring 179 social media policies. Notable examples include Kodak, and the U.S. Air Force.

In addition, a quick online search will lead you to articles with sound advice.

And don’t forget to add the human element. Draw both on your business’ internal resources and connect with savvy social media thought leaders at local events like Social Media At Work where
you can network and make quality connections.

Whatever path you take, start on your policy today. “My baby don’t care” isn’t going to cut it in the c-suite when the press calls for a comment about a bad post or improper connection.

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