Almost a year ago during Tandaa Symposium at Stanley, a lady employee from Google expressed to me how hard it is to operate a social media account and talk freely when you are employed. Her main issue was whether to use her own name or use some other funny anonymous name. At the end of discussion she settled for anonymous name, at least she expected that to give her freedom to tweet candidly even in matters concerning Google. Then I met the PR manager of Microsoft who insisted she is on twitter but can’t tweet much due to many reasons. I found out that the same goes for marketing manager of Multichoice.
It is great when employees come in and know straight away what they can say or not say on social media. Social media policy should fit well with the organization’s goals, culture and risk tolerance. But that is not the case in Kenya, I mean not even one single company in Kenya has Social Media Guidelines. And if I am wrong then I stand to be corrected.
On top of the company guidelines addressing what is appropriate and inappropriate to say about the company on social media sites, the guidelines should also address the disciplinary measures in case they are breached. I will not call it training but the managers need to take time to educate staff about a code of conduct, what is considered bad, what is considered good and what if….
The above are now very crucial in Kenya following the events that have taken place in the last few months. We have seen employees being fired right, left and center for saying something on Twitter or Facebook or for the sin of not verifying the content they post of social networking sites. Unfortunately in some of the cases, the fired employees are genuinely innocent or made the mistake without knowing. THAT IS WHY I SAY CREATE THE DAMN SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY NOW.
Take example of Nation Media Group and Albert Gachiri. You remember when they killed Njenga Karume online? May God give him many many more years to live. Ok, the story came out first on KTN , and I am still not sure how they came up with the story. But a certain boss at NTV not wanting to be left behind instructed Albert Gachiri to post that Njenga Karume is dead on Facebook. You all know what followed on social media after people realized that Njenga Karume is alive. The funny part was that people went for NTV’s neck and not KTN but that is a story for another day
Gachiri being the guy who was managing NTV Facebook, got fired although he acted under the instructions from his boss. One journalist who understands the whole story confirmed that Gachiri was thrown under the bus by his boss when the ax man came calling for the head to be rolled. He was told that he should have confirmed the story. Probably one of these days people will need to disobey their bosses to survive.
There are many similar cases out there, but one common factor is that the companies involved do not have the words Social Media anywhere in their handbooks or in the contracts. I know people would say that employees should use common sense but there is a reason why there are rules everywhere. Even the Holy places like Churches, Mosques, Temples have Rules and Guidelines, why not Social Media?
So what should be on Social Media Guidelines
- The policy should be broad enough to cover all the aspect of Social Media, ranging from multi-media, social networking websites, blogs and wikis for both professional and personal use.
- There should be a clear disclaimer by employees on their social media accounts…I guess you have seen this in many places “the views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kachwanya.com.”
- Clearly indicate what should never be included on the internet postings, things like copyright, privacy, fair use, financial disclosure, and other applicable laws.
- Corporate blogs, Facebook pages like that of NTV, Twitter accounts… could require approval when the employee is posting about the company and the industry. The approving authority should take the blame when things go wrong..the bucks stop with the top man or woman
Just to mention but a few…