Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 00:01 - Julie DiMauro
Many compliance and governance professionals at an online seminar on social media said they did not believe their companies were monitoring online discussions carefully, even though several reported their companies had adopted or recently amended policies intended to better control corporate use of social networks.
At a social-media-governance webinar hosted by Thomson Reuters Accelus entitled “The Case for Social MediaGovernance,” participants learned that business spending for social media is predicted at current rates to triple by 2017, to 19.5 percent of digital budgets. The number of social media job-related positions in business-to-business firms has grown by 600 percent in the last five years.
“A company should not forget that (social media) deployment across the enterprise needs to be monitored and measured so the tools are used to the company’s advantage and according to regulations appropriate to the company’s industry,” said John Hair, director and social media governance lead at KPMG LLP. Hair and Sanjaya Krishna, principal, digital risk consulting at KPMG, conducted the webinar.
In a survey of webinar participants, 81 said their companies had a social media use policy and 102 said they did not.
Marketing departments were cited most commonly as having accountability for social media communications in a company, with 73 participants citing those units, compared with 27 who said compliance had the duty and 21 saying it was a duty of the communications department.
Each department has its own objectives in using social media -- from attracting the best new hires to acquiring new customers, the speakers said.
A key way to manage risk, Hair noted, was to spread the use and monitoring across departments, so each one had a seat at the table in setting policy.
Few participants said their employers were using social media tools to learn what people were saying about their companies, although the speakers recommended doing so. Nearly one-fourth said they did not think their companies were using such tools, others were unsure. “Understanding what the marketplace is saying is important not just for measuring success of marketing efforts, but also so the company can determine what reputational risks might potentially exist,” Krishna said.
The participants also expressed uncertainty or doubt that their companies conducted a formal review of the terms and conditions of a social media site each time they established a new presence; for example, when setting up a new Facebook page.
An effective external social media governance program will monitor these terms and conditions to make sure they address key areas such as intellectual property rights, disclaimers and whether social media postings are discoverable in legal actions.
A full two-thirds of the listeners who responded said “no,” when asked if they felt confident that their organizations have an adequate social media governance program in place.
Both presenters stressed how important it is to establish effective governance protocols expressing the “voice of the company” on social media. These include identifying behaviors expected of social media participants, monitoring emerging regulatory guidelines across multiple jurisdictions and having a data- retention policy for legal and audit purposes.
The challenges are evolving, they said, but the companies that tackle them early will profit most from the careful application of good governance when implementing these increasingly popular tools.