Friday, November 13, 2009

Faceless Facebook and other organizational social media strategies

TwitterImage via Wikipedia

I've spent a fair amount of time reading university social media policies over the past few weeks. Here's an example that is representative of how most universities are approaching it:

University Officially Recognized Social Media Accounts

The University has established an application process for groups to be recognized by the University as official social media accounts.

The policy only applies to social media accounts created to represent groups, departments, programs, entities, etc. and does not apply to private individual accounts.

In other words, you're only allowed to participate as a department or some other organizational entity. No personal identities allowed. If you're using your real name you're on your own. Do not speak for the university. Don't even think about wearing your university hat.

This is sad. It's the old industrial era concept of a work and personal life. Like we're naturally schizophrenic? We all know this is a total myth. These attempts to remove the person from their social media strategies (and that's what they are, strategies) are doomed to fail.

I found the whole exercise of looking at the policies a bit depressing. So when I saw this blog post by Andrew Douglas it spoke to me: B2B's Big Hurdle: Developing a personality in social media:

Know what doesn't work in social media? Twitter or blog posts by nameless corporations. And that's going to be the biggest hurdle for people like me who do B2B public relations.

The rules of successful social media engagement -- frequent updates, transparency, engagement with other users, personality -- don't mesh with corporate PR 1.0.

Or university PR 1.0. The approaches the universities are taking to social media are not going to work. They are not designed to be engaging, conversational, or transparent. They will lead to the old push, broadcast, sterile world of old. This is not what the people are wanting. You can't get real while hiding behind an organizational facade.

So here's my advice. Dump the policies. They aren't going to work anyway. Turn your faculty and staff loose. Tell them they represent the university 24x7. Just like they represent themselves 24x7. The only policy required is common sense.

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Karen said...

The more I read this through, the more concerned I am that my coworkers and I may have run afoul of these types of policies, simply in the nature of our jobs as public information providers.

Out dated indeed, if in order to do our jobs well, we almost have to break university policies.

Kevin Gamble said...

Dear nameless (even though I know who you are... these university policies aren't fooling anyone :)):

Yes, that's exactly what is happening. Mind if I pull your comment out and turn it into another blog post? I think it bears highlighting.


Peg Boyles said...

Hear, hear!

We homo sapiens laid down our genome as social (storytelling) creatures who relate and respond to one another as distinct persons.

No way we can build trust, or depth of learning/caring relationships with (or posing as) abstract institutional entities.