Assemble the Social Media Policy Team

This article dives deeper into the second step of the ABCs of Creating an Effective Social Media Policy: Assembling the team of representatives to create your social media policy.

As I’ve discussed, the first step in creating a successful social media policy is to identify the key stakeholders to make part of your social media policy team. This article covers the importance of including not only your organization’s official representatives (such as your Legal Counsel, Chief Information Officer and/or the HR Director) but also those whose unofficial status as social media experts makes them invaluable resources in an undertaking such as this.

Mailroom Frank: To Include or Not?

Unlike in many of the other areas of policy development, social media’s unbreakable integration with ever-changing technologies make it essential to involve not only those with expertise in the areas of policy and compliance, but also those whose knowledge of what’s happening “out there” in terms of technological advancements in  social media platforms. In addition, while it’s not always true that having a diverse set of viewpoints results in a more effective process–think death by committee–what is true is that the likelihood of missing a potentially devastating risk is significantly decreased when people with different viewpoints evaluate that risk from multiple angles. More eyes almost always results in more perspectives. The challenge, of course, is to determine how far your organization is willing to go as it relates to including those with a different viewpoint on the team. Clearly, there’s no value in having 21-year-old Frank from the mailroom on the team–or is there? And we all know that we only need one rep from marketing on the team–or do we?

The ability to include the unofficial expertss may also be more or less difficult, depending upon your organization’s culture. Are you an inclusive culture, where the view is “All for one and one for all”? Or are you a separatist culture, where the prevailing view around roles and responsibilities might be “Good fences make for good neighbors”?

Inclusive Cultures

If inclusive, it’s important to ensure that we don’t create a social media policy team which is too large and therefore prone to decision gridlock. The key to designating people in an inclusive culture is to be able to clearly articulate why each of the individuals has been chosen. When doing so, get your explanation down to two to three sentences; any longer and people will see you as overselling, or worse, defensively justifying.

Let’s take a look at what such a statement might look like.

“In order to be both representative and move with speed, we have decided that the social media policy team should be no larger than 10 people. We’ve selected Bill from marketing to be on the team because he has both an extensive understanding of how our customers are using social media platforms as well as good competitive intelligence on what new platforms are likely to be adopted by these customers in the future.”

 Again, short, understandable, to the point.

Separatist Cultures

If our culture is more separatist, we’ll have to work a little harder to get organization buy-in to include these unofficial experts onto the social media policy team. One approach we could use is to do a simple quiz before the first meeting of our social media policy team in order to clearly point out knowledge gaps of the “official representatives.” Unless keeping up with social media trends is a full-time job for these representatives, there’s a good chance that many of them will not be as familiar with either the scope or utility of many of the newer social media platforms. This provides a great opening to introduce a handful of unofficial experts onto the team.

Even in a separatist culture, it’s important to be able to clearly articulate the reasons for an individual’s involvement. As an example:

“We’ve selected our summer intern, Katy, from IT to be on the team because of her extensive knowledge of which social media platforms Gen X and Gen Y are using. We’ve also asked her to act as a reverse mentor to the team, helping them understand how these newer platforms work as well as what older platforms people are beginning to abandon.”

Again short, understandable, to the point.

Christopher Wofford is Digital Media Producer and host of WebSeries at eCornell.
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