Is your organization treating social media like a fad or like the biggest shift since the industrial revolution? If the former, you may want to view this 4.5 minute film, which makes a compelling case for the latter.

As compelling as this case may be, most employers seem to be taking a ‘wait and see” approach, according to a report issued by Manpower Research, which found that only about 20% of the organizations surveyed have a formal social media policy in place. (See: Social Networks vs Management – Harness the Power of Social Media (PDF).) And of those organizations that do have a social media policy, it is more likely to focus on issues surrounding containment, control, and risk management rather than on ways that the organization can benefit by the power of social networks. The report suggests that social networks hold the potential to be transformative in enhancing productivity, innovation, collaboration, reputation and employee engagement.
Manpower’s report recommends that companies consider taking the following steps to promote the constructive use of social networking:
Challenge employees to innovate
Promote the positive use of social media by encouraging employees to come up with ways to use these tools to do their jobs better. People love to discuss their successes, so get employees to describe how they’ve used social media tools in new ways, for example, to generate leads or serve customers better. You can focus these efforts by function or interest, as needed. Follow the lead of so many innovative organizations and run a contest for the best new ideas.

Tap internal experts
Teach by example by encouraging employees who regularly use social networking in their jobs to discuss and demonstrate how it’s done. Keep track of the new ideas that flow from this kind of mentoring exchange and share the ideas and best practices.

Let employees “own” the governance
The foundation of any healthy social network is an engaged community. Let your employees help develop and enforce your company’s guidelines. This approach will certainly appeal to those employees most likely to use social media, promoting trust in the goals of the guidelines that ultimately are instituted.

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