My company (who will remain anonymous, but not too much if you dig deep enough, because of their crazy Google Alerts) has for some time maintained a blanket NO stance against social media. I have been working for months to educate the right people on what it is.My company’s main objection is:
“They [Facebook and Twitter] are both “open ended” systems which means the Unions could join and start distributing their propaganda. Also, if we support it over our network, we will have to keep track of it for discovery laws since these are communications that occur both inside and outside our company. This would be next to impossible for us to monitor since it is open ended.” So simply, the objection exists because of employment and labor law and its relationship to social media. Current labor laws force companies to allow the same opportunities for all employees to say something, even if it means to include a union. So in order not to discriminate against those, we simply do not allow it for the entire company. My company has already shut down two “official” Company Facebook pages because of the fear of inappropriate comments (one made by two employees on non-company time, interesting that appeared on another employee’s Facebook page, not the group page or discussion page) and fear that unions will start posting on the site. I completely understand the apprehension against Facebook, as most companies do not use it—not that I agree with it though. However, because of Facebook and Twitter fears, they fear placing one inside our corporate firewall as well. Does anyone know anything about discovery laws and its relation to social media?
My response has been consistent. Here is one edited response that I have used.
I completely understand wanting to close off Facebook and Twitter. They are open applications that could allow for Unions to join and start distributing their propaganda. On the other hand, do we just allow the unions to keep the technology to themselves? Do we not chime in and listen even if we don’t want an official Facebook page or Twitter username? Unions are using these means already. Our own employees are using these means already. And we have no visibility into what is going on except through Google Alerts, which is truthfully inadequate alone. 2007 was the first year that there was more content creation than crawlers, servers, etc. could document and store. Facebook boasts for over 200 active million users! Surely many of our own employees are on this list, and Google does not Google Alert it. At first search without digging, I found 380 people on Facebook from my company (not a large company). A quick search on Myspace.com revealed 112 hits including job postings from their partnerships with job websites. Linkedin.com listed 190 employees. The people at these sites include people from almost every rank.
Furthermore, just today I checked out a public message board that has over 19,900 members, and one thread dedicated to our company. It is already being used for HR information, travel information, corporate communications, policies, unions, compensation, etc.
Again, to my knowledge, these threads are not supported by Google Alerts. So our people are already using social media for “good” and for “bad.” Why not have a discussion board on our intranet for our employees only (i.e. they have to login through their employee #) where we have full visibility? Are we that afraid of our employees? Are our employees that bad? Are we not treating our employees well? Aren’t we making strides to understand our people with our new survey? Will people post bad or negative stuff? Maybe. Maybe not. If they do, we won’t need to do anything because some other loyal and faithful employee at their same level or lower will say something. The community will police itself. There was a hospital who wanted to move away from email because email was being bogged down through too many discussions and announcements. So they created a discussion board for general announcements like cookout for all the ?? employees, and other social type things. For the first six months, it was used what it was created for. At the sixth month mark, they noticed a shift in the conversation. Employees began using it for work. They shared information and knowledge about all sorts of things. Why? Well, the biggest thing that we all have in common here is our company. It’s our work that unites us. It’s the logo, the brand. Yes, if the discussion board is inside, then yes the unions may place something on it but only through an employee. And we know who it is and we can address the root cause, but before they place union information, they’ll be warning signs. Things we can know and address.
As for our LMS, it cannot do some of the things that would greatly benefit us as can blogs, discussion boards, wikis, social networks, etc. Other companies are using blogs and Twitter, and yet they have to submit to the same discovery laws as we do. So how can they do it and we can’t? What good is Twitter? What good is blogging?
Imagine this. Having a tool that pressing one button, it will notify a long list of people instantaneously to their phones. Imagine this. Having a tool that notifies all our customers immediately about a new service, a new program, or some other PR or Marketing campaign. Imagine this: having immediate access to over 500 other professionals who do the same job you do. It’s like being at a conference all day every day. Networking with people. Conversing over hot issues that companies, even competitors can discuss. Helping one another improve through benchmarking. Imagine this. Our president makes a brief announcement via Twitter then everyone of his followers have it immediately on their phone.
Twitter can be used for all sorts of things. It is micro-blogging. It is texting. Currently, we cannot see what people are saying to one another in their cubicles, in the halls, in the stairwell, at the coffee station, in the breakroom, etc. Now imagine being notified every time someone says something. Twitter now can be searched via hashtag, Twitter Alerts (like Google Alerts), by attitude!, by words, etc. Twitter can be used to announce training opportunities, real time advice from the masses, leadership/motivational quotes, etc. Again, it can be whatever we want it to be. It can be whatever we officially deem it to be. It’s fast, simple, and easy.
But does anyone have any information about social media and discovery laws?