Let’s take a look at the current landscape of social media policies. To start, let’s look at a Wikipedia (a popular social media site in its own right) to see how it defines social media. In Wikipedia, social media is defined as interactive platforms via which individuals and communities create and share user-generated content social software which mediates human communication.
The key words to focus on in these two definitions are “sharing,” “user-generated,” and “content.” The technology and gee-whiz software applications are just window dressing. At its heart, social media is the sharing of user-generated content.
While I find Wikipedia’s definition to be very good, it doesn’t really highlight the two reasons why social media policies sometimes become the central focus of an organization’s overall risk management framework. I refer to these two reasons as social media’s S² Twins: Speed & Scope.
Information can travel around the world almost instantaneously. What previously took hours or days to be known around the world is nowadays shared with potentially hundreds of millions of people in a matter of seconds. Without appropriate social media policies in-place, an organization runs the risk that it is not information but rather misinformation that explodes into cyberspace, resulting in a PR nightmare from which an organization may never recover.
Previously, communication missteps tended to be limited in distribution by the reach of the physical media through which they were transmitted. Newspapers, Magazines, even radio and TV stations tended to have defined geographies within which they operated. With the internet, this limitation on distribution or scope no longer exists. With the push of a button, information (or misinformation) is as easily accessible in Antarctica as it is in London or New York.