Threat Management

Social media guidelines meet the real world


It wasn't long too long ago that most companies were on the fence when it came to engaging in social media.

However, a quick look at the surging adoption rates among the nation's largest companies should tell you that not only are social networks here to stay, but they have become a critical communication channel for business. If you haven't already accepted that fact, do it now and determine how best to make the social web safe and successful for your organization.

One of the first steps most companies now take when engaging in social media is to create a policy. In fact, a quick internet search will bring up a slew of articles calling for "improved social media policies" and training as the means for brands to move forward safely.

But while it's true, that a solid a social media policy is important, you're sadly mistaken if you think a social media policy by itself will protect your company, your brands and your reputation.  Even the best social media policy models won't work if there is no way to enforce them

A written policy that's misunderstood, forgotten, and ignored won't actually protect your organization or prevent costly and embarrassing incidents. Guidelines and training are essential, but alone, they're neither scalable nor consistently effective.  Real data from the Altimeter Group reflects the challenges in keeping policies and training up to date and top of mind. 

History has demonstrated time and again in other enterprise segments that products and technology are needed to automate, complement, and enforce policies.

Let's take a quick look at your organization's owned and branded social accounts, after all, if you can't protect those, you have little hope of making progress with your employee and partner owned social accounts. If you're business is like most large businesses, you've got tens if not hundreds of company branded social media properties spanning countless Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube Channels, LinkedIn Pages, Google+ pages, Pinterest accounts, and more. These include everything from accounts you own, to those managed by departments, subsidiaries, and product teams. Each represents a piece of communication infrastructure that you own, despite the fact that it's ‘consumerized', and you lack the visibility and policy controls to manage and secure it. 

What's more, you likely have dozens of apps installed and authorized for each account – from marketing suites and campaign tools to mobile apps like Twitter for iPhone or Facebook for Android. You also probably have dozens of employees and contractors, each with a mix of administrative access rights and publishing authorization, (the same holds true for each of your connected and authorized apps).

These challenges aren't new. We've seen them before in other areas of our communications infrastructure.  And we've used written policies to establish a baseline policy structure, and subsequently applied technology to automate and enforce its application.  

Take, for example, email.

Nearly every organization uses an email security gateway to automatically filter out spam and malware from corporate email, and ensure compliance and regulatory standards are followed. You don't have a person manually sifting through every email, and you don't rely on a book of policies to see to it that your employees aren't sending out confidential or inappropriate emails.  You've designed your policies, and then invested in technology to enforce them.

This approach doesn't stop with email. Communications infrastructure continually follows this best-practice approach. You have tools for directory services, application control, secure web browsing, and access management to centralize provisioning and de-provisioning of users, which applications can be used, detecting tampering or hacks to network accounts, protect sensitive data, and block access to unauthorized users. This is the technology and automation that makes your written policies and guidelines work, and your environment safe.

Your social infrastructure needs this same approach to enforce your newly minted social media policies. This includes automated technology for account level access controls (beyond the more limited scope of publishing apps), tamper protection, actual application controls (for your mobile and publishing apps), multi-source content filtering, archiving, and more.

It's here that the latest innovation in social media management is taking place – beyond the noise, where technology meets the real world of social media policy.

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