Lately we have seen news of a few notable and (in my opinion) unfortunate decisions from some major entities banning or strongly discouraging use of Social Networks by their members / employees: The Marines banning access to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter in their network, and the NFL where both Green Bay and Miami Dolphin players were “strongly discouraged” from using Social Media Channels as a couple notable examples.
The thought of these has been brewing in my mind; and I thought I’d go and search from some official source as to how well prohibition works; here a couple quotes of one of the many documents I found (“Teaching With Documents: The Volstead Act and Related Prohibition Documents”, Form the National Archives):
- “The intensity of the temperance advocates was matched only by the inventiveness of those who wanted to keep drinking”
- “Prohibition made life in America more violent, with open rebellion against the law and organized crime”
- “"the great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far reaching in purpose" as Herbert Hoover called it, did not work.”
I believe the Marines and NFL will find themselves facing similar situations in their attempts to stifle Social Media adoption among its ranks; we are social being and it is in our nature to have social interactions; the current online social media phenomena is nothing but an elimination of friction, extension of reach and amplification of impact of something we have been doing forever… and honestly; both institutions would benefit a lot from the proper use of social media.
Let’s look at the education approach on the other side; fortunately we have many encouraging examples here as well:
- SAP Social Media Guidelines
- Intel Social Media Guidelines
- IBM Social Computing Guidelines
- Kodak’s approach to Social Media (Interview) and their great efforts to educate (love how that image educates in a simple and yet effective way) and anchor everything on Business Principles so that they can keep it evolving as new Social Media tools arise.
- Corporations/organizations should anchor their social media guidelines/policies in their business conduct guidelines; social media presents new forms of communication and relationship management but the business conduct guidelines should simply be extended and applied to this space.
- Guidelines should do a good job of encouraging; by helping people understand the benefits this can bring to the organization they work for as well as themselves as individuals.
- Clear “limits” should be drawn; I like how IBM did it.
- Clear guidelines regarding Copyright, IP and Confidentiality aspects should be put forward.
- Mistakes should be expected (we are humans, after all) and proper processes to deal with those. (see HP’s)
So on one side hopeless prohibition; on the other side smart education and empowerment; I think you know what my pick is.
What do you think?