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Should CIO's Own The Corporate Social Media Policy?

Anjuan Simmons

Anjuan Simmons

I felt it best to answer Anjuan’s statement of, ” CIO’s Should Own The Corporate Social Media Policy? ” here  rather than on FaceBook, I’ve added a few other comments to. Anjuan touches on so many nerve endings in his article that I couldn’t bring myself to keep it short. : )

On the surface it would appear the CIO is a great candidate to be the owner of a Social Media Policy, but only on the surface. A few of the questions to be asking before assigning this responsibility are, who is responsible for crafting the consistent message of the organization? How is that message integrated into all communications, and who is responsible for executing it? Who is responsible for the metrics and tracking them? Who is responsible for the role of listening to who is saying what about an organization? I suspect not the CIO.

The CIO does own the Acceptable use or Internet Policy, so a Social Media Policy really isn’t necassary. This policy may be touched upon in a Non-Disclosure Agreement and or Code of Conduct document all staff must sign when hired. But not likely. Begging the question, isn’t that an HR responsibility?

Anyway, In the example of a Virus entering the organizations network via Facebook or any other Internet source is not a Social Media Policy issue. It’s not even an Internet Policy or Acceptable use policy issue, that would be assigning responsibility to the wrong place. It is however a security issue which is handled by the I.T. Manager’s Security & Network Administrator’s. It is already assumed that these virus attacks are going to happen and are common place anyway, the CIO only wants to know that the I.T. Manager’s Security & Network personal are looking after this problem before it happens. (That’s an assumption of course)

The CIO should however, recommend to Upper Executives a Social Media Team be formed and that they are in compliance with the Internet & Acceptable Use Policy. This team resides within the Marketing  / PR Departments, not I.T. The Policy Monitoring should be entrusted to all Executives / Managers / Department Heads. To be completely honest, as a former CIO I wouldn’t want that job for all the tea in China; I am more interested in more high level issues, like where technology is going, how and what do we use it for, how does technology help us meet company goals, not worrying about violator’s & monitoring chatter.

The Tools: Again, as long as all departments and or staff follows the Internet & Acceptable Use Policy, I don’t care which tools they use. The department head’s might care, but I don’t. The role of the CIO is not to police or babysit, it is to ensure that the IT department is doing what the organization needs purely from a technical perspective. HR can monitor the Internet Policy as it’s probably packaged with the NDA and Code of Conduct anyway. I.T. will have monitoring software that can spit out reports for HR if needed, HR can then deal with the violating staff person and inform the head of I.T., NOT the CIO, unless a crime has been committed.

When it’s all said and done, the CIO is responsible for the technology needs of the organization and to see that technology align’s with the organizations business processes (needs). He is also tasked with educating executives and the organization as a whole on new technologies that may be of value or are being implemented. They may make a direct improvement to the bottom line or automate an existing process. Assuming the CIO get’s involved in the details or the tasks his Manger’s should be handling would be poor use of the CIO’s time.

The Internet Policy & Acceptable Use Policy will already have covered the Social Media aspect of the Internet, Social Media is not new, Instant Messaging and Blogging forced organizations to address these types environments years ago. What you say on the Internet could be a violation of the company Code of Conduct, NDA, Internet & Acceptable Use Policy.

I hope this helps, and I hope it makes you ask more questions, I love a good debate now and then, some of us will agree and many
will disagree but that’s OK. Thanks Anjuan for getting it started. Anjuan, you are on the right track, but remember, Social Media
is about giving up control and embracing ambiguity and sharing. Social Media is also the new CRM (Customer Relations Management). A seperate Policy for Social Media will be confusing and overlap the above mentioned Policy’s.

So, should CIO’s own the corporate Social Media Policy? My answer is….No.

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  

10 Comments

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  5. Ken Camp on November 11, 2009 at 8:01 AM

    I’m entrenched in a project and don’t have time to write as detailed or thoughtful a post, but thought I’d add my support here.

    The CIO has a lot of responsibility, but I agree, is not the appropriate person to target the message. IT policies yes, messaging no. That’s the role of the CMO, who in a company that uses social media, must also embrace the role of Chief Conversation Officer, helping guide and shape the social media message across the organization.

    The problem is, IMHO, that the issue goes deeper. For a company to be effective using these tools, the entire C-level team has to lead a corporate culture shift. The CMO/CCo is the evangelist leading the charge, but if the culture of the organization doesn’t shift at the C-level, there will be problems. I’ve seen several cases where the CIO’s policies undermine the value of what the CMO is doing. They have to work together to move the company into the new world.

    I don’t like the term social media because it’s inaccurate. In this context we’re really talking “social marketing” as a CRM tool. In my leadership roles, there’s one rule I always make clear – everyone in the company is a salesperson and a marketer. That cultural attitude, when it’s the norm, pulls people together with the common goals of success and unified corporate messaging.

    I think it’s far more an issue of corporate culture and socializing everyone to the tools and their use than it is about acceptable use policies and technology.

    The effective company focuses first and foremost on the core business objectives. The tools, technologies and policies are there to support the business. They aren’t the end game, and using them without a plan doesn’t help anyone. It’s best to identify “what we do” and then determine how these tools can help the core business. Too often executives become enamored of the tools without any business use case analysis as to why they might be useful used in certain ways.



    • Owen Greaves on November 11, 2009 at 8:10 AM

      Thanks Ken, I have found a lot of confusion in some circles as to what the CIO is truly responsible for in an organization. Many try to make the CIO do the 1st level Manager’s task’s, in turn making poor use of the CIO’s time and not utilizing the CIO’s value. This is an interesting topic for discussion and in my humble opinion won’t ever obtain some form of standard job description. I agree with you on the issue of corporate culture, that alone raises a plethera of questions and concerns. Many Blessings my friend.



  6. Richard Hamilton on November 11, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    Owen,

    I agree that this question goes well beyond the CIO’s responsibility. That said, if the policy is left only in the hands of marketing and PR, you miss an opportunity. Customers often (I’d argue nearly always) come to the web with product/service problems or questions they need answered, and they frequently form ad hoc on-line communities based on their common use of a product/service. The people who are in the best position to help them are your technical communicators and support staff.

    I great way to turn off customers is to feed them a marketing/PR message when all they want to do is get the darned product to work. So, while I agree a team approach is the right way to go, make sure the right people are on the team.

    Thanks for a thought provoking article.

    P.S. I agree 100% with Ken Camp’s last sentence. Infatuation with technology and tools in the absence of a business case is nearly epidemic these days.



    • Owen Greaves on November 11, 2009 at 11:14 AM

      Hi Richard, I’m not suggesting the responsibility be solely in the hands of Marketing / PR, I would suggest they handle the day-to-day mundane tasks of Social Media. If you read my post closely you will find the suggested Social Media Policy by Anjuan is actually already covered via the Acceptable Use & Internet Policy. The CIO and his team along with the Marketing / PR and HR Executives would assist in crafting the language that covers the Social Media concerns. Anyways, thanks for commenting, I hope you find my Blog useful.



  7. John D on November 11, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    Really I think a company should have a Social Media expert in-house position created or established. I also think that position belongs to Marketing. A CIO’s role should be to ensure that the company network is indeed secure. But to take on all the tasks that could breach network security I think is unrealistic.

    I am not against having a CIO be a part of the Social Media experience, such as writing content, blog posts, interacting with the community etc. I still believe that that should be spear headed by Marketing.



    • Owen Greaves on November 11, 2009 at 12:56 PM

      Hey John, Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I think the CIO should help shape the Social Media Team only from the perspective of knowing what’s is coming and what changes will need to be made to ensure the organization stays current and shift easily. Social Media is not the CIO’s job, he acta more like a Consultant to the organization wanting to build such a team.