Main image of article Don't Change Your Social Policy, Change Your Culture

A very hot topic of discussion in the blogger lounge at this year's SHRM National Conference was whether or not your company should have a social media policy. John Sumser (@johnsumser), founder of HR Examiner, says no. “The idea of having a policy is that you communicate what you’re trying to get done in the organization by handing out pieces of paper,” says Sumser. “That’s never worked. Anybody who’s got an employee manual knows that it sits underneath all of the rest junk in your top desk drawer and you never look at it.” “The reason that people will want policy is to solve problems that they're afraid are going to emerge from social media,” Sumser continues. “It’s not useful trying to solve those fears with pieces of paper.” The answer isn't to create a social media policy. Instead, Sumser suggests you focus on culture changes. For example, if you create an environment that is authentic and transparent, your social audience will perceive your company that way – no matter whether you have an official policy in existence. First, define what you’re afraid of within the social sphere. Then train key people, who will train others, on how to handle those situations. You want all of your employees to fully adopt your ideal behaviors and attitudes in social media, says Sumser. That’s the plan for today. You need to also plan for tomorrow. Any process you have now needs to be flexible enough to handle things you can’t even imagine yet, says Sumser.