The Variance of Corporate Social Media Policies

Our research indicates that 2/3rds of US online Youth (ages 12-17) use social networks at least monthly, and 20% of teens use them daily. (Q4, 2007) There’s no indication that I’ve seen that the adoption will decrease as they enter the workforce.

David Churbuck (whose name I finally got right) is a web strategist at Lenonvo computers, and writes a compelling piece Does Your Company Have a Blogging Policy? This is a question I hear to often from the Fortune 5000 who are toe dipping, or just down right scared of employee blogs.

I often defer the conversation a step higher, to discuss how they’ve (hopefully) hired smart people that they trust, and that they are willing and to empower and trust them to make the right decisions both online, and offline. In many cases, some of these companies have over-arching ethics policies that span behavior not just on blogs and social networks, but also at corporate functions, or even when wearing he company shirt at a bar.

Sadly, more than one company has expressed to me they didn’t trust their employees, as either they were an “unruly” group (many of their employees in the field may not have much formal education) or were uncomfortable with how much of their personal lives they shared due to their age (Gen Y shares quite a bit in MySpace and Facebook).

At a more traditional and larger brand, this company wanted to attract more Generation Y and X employees, as over 40% of their workforce (Boomers) are starting to retire in the next 5 years. The fat pensions they’ve been building for the employees has made it quite affordable to retire early –taking their knowledge and networks with them. So to them, they had to be friendly to social media when it came to attracting this younger crowd, and they softened up on their corporate social media policy. Recent research by Deloitte confirms that Gen Y seeks to give back to their community, often in the form of social networking.

So how are companies stringing together these policies? Most commonly, the ethics policy is already in place, and corporations can lean and amend that one. A few have adopted a specific blogging policy, often with the help of the actual bloggers, while a majority may be too decentralized –or not have anyone focusing on it — to create such a policy.

Share with others, if your company has a public blogging or social media policy, please leave a link to it below, and tell us how your company came into agreement for this policy.