I followed a link to a blog post from LinkedIn a while ago. It was a short post, well written, asking open ended questions about how we should approach social media use within organisations, and how we should deal with the pitfalls.
What was really interesting, though, was the tone of the first few comments. They exemplified, for me, the reasons why we just don’t seem to be able to form a corporate view or policy. I’ll paraphrase my favourites, and then we’ll have a little game I call ‘Reductio ad absurdum’.
“Only HR should be allowed to post content on social media. They are the only people who can be trusted to know the policy and never ever ever post anything that might embarrass us.”
Ready to play? Here we go:
- Only HR know the policy properly.
- Only HR can communicate correctly according to the policy.
- If we must always communicate correctly according to the policy, then only HR can communicate with anybody ever.
- No other staff need communicate with anybody outside the organisation.
- No staff need phones or email that can reach or be reached by anybody outside the organisation.
- All staff will henceforth communicate only with each other.
- Internal phone calls and emails will be replaced with a system of paper memos, routed through HR just to be safe.
Hey, everyone, welcome to 1950!
“Only marketing should be allowed to post content on social media. They are the only people who can be trusted to know the correct message and never ever ever post anything that will tarnish our corporate image.”
- Only Marketing know the correct message.
- If we can only communicate according to the message, then only Marketing can communicate anything ever.
- Nobody outside Marketing can make any kind of communication to anyone outside the company.
- All staff henceforth may only communicate with each other.
- Any staff needing to communicate with other organisations or individuals may only do so via Marketing.
- When the Chief Executive speaks in public his speech will be translated by Marketing in real time to ensure the purity of the message.
Well, we’re moving forward. Now it feels like 1984.
“Nobody at all ever should be allowed to post any content to any kind of social media ever. That’s the only way to make sure the drones are doing the job they’re being paid to do and not wasting the company’s time with socialising or sharing information.”
- Any communication not related to work is a waste of work time.
- All staff henceforth are banned from communicating on any matter not directly related to work during work time.
- No talking in the corridors. No enquiring after your colleagues’ weekend, health, family etc.
Truthfully, I don’t even know what historical period of repression this looks like. The only culture that even comes close is this …
Right, so now we can see how ridiculous an over-reaction each of these scenarios would be. Let’s look at what we’re actually worried about. Is it that we will say or do something stupid? Not really. If that worried us so much we could all just stay indoors with our hands in our pockets and do nothing. Problem solved. No, our worry here is that we might say or do something stupid and then people would find out.
Ok, finally some suggestions for dealing with the Doomsday scenario. How about we go with this …
- Try not to do or say anything stupid.
- If we find we have said or done something stupid, own up, apologise and fix it.
- Er … that’s it.
Why make it any more complex than it needs to be?