I’ve been going back and forth with the need for a dedicated social media policy for my firm. Yes, I have drafted one, and I keep going back and editing it down. If you’re not sure where to start, Doug Cornelius has a collection of more than 132 social media policies you can puruse.

Then I came across this post by Michael Hyatt, whom I enjoy following on Twitter, today, Five Reasons Why Your Company Doesn’t Need a Social Media Policy and it go me thinking: Do we really need a dedicated social media policy?

According to Mr. Hyatt:

Your company doesn’t need a social media policy and here are five reasons why:

  1. Your people can be trusted. In my experience as a leader, people pretty much do what you expect. If you expect them to be honest and trustworthy, they will be honest and trustworthy. No, I am not hopelessly naive: I know some people misbehave. But why punish the many because of the few? Deal with the exceptions as they occur. Most people will do the right thing if given the chance.
  2. Social media are just one more way to communicate. I honestly don’t understand all the fuss about social media. It’s just one more way to communicate. Do you have a “phone policy”? an “email policy”? a “fax policy”? Technology is neither good nor bad. It’s what people do with it that is the issue. And honestly, I don’t care if people are updating their Facebook status “on company time.” (Is there really such a thing any more?) Instead, I prefer to focus on the results the employee delivers and let them manage their time.
  3. More rules only make your company more bureaucratic. Before the election, someone asked me what my political affiliation was. I laughed and said, “I’m a Libertarian, but only because I don’t have the guts to be an anarchist.” I don’t think you can legislate morality. (That’s not to say that legislation can’t be immoral, but I digress.) You can’t come up with enough rules to guarantee that people will do the right thing. Too many rules only make your organization slower and less likely to embrace the change it needs to survive.
  4. Formal policies only discourage people from participating. In my opinion, you want to encourage your people to engage in social media. Doing so puts a human face on your brand. It meets customers where they are congregating. It makes everyone an ambassador for your organization. But formal policies discourage this. They make people hesitant. No employee wants to get in trouble, so they just avoid the very thing you want (or should want) to encourage.
  5. You probably already have policies that govern inappropriate behavior. This is the real kicker. You likely already have an employee handbook in place that speaks to what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. At Thomas Nelson, for example, our handbook provides various examples of “Personal Conduct Violations.”

Our firm does have policies on conduct, etc. Do we need to muck it up and scare people away from social media??

Mr. Hyatt does have a short and simple Social Media Policy that says it all:

If you really must have a policy, then I suggest this one:

Use whatever social media you want. Feel free to use it on company time. Just use common sense and remember that if you publicly identify yourself with the company’s brand then act in a manner consistent with that brand. It’s in all of our best interests to do so.