Home Businesses Need to Formalize Their Social Media Policies

Businesses Need to Formalize Their Social Media Policies

According to a new study, enterprises continue to deploy social networking tools at an increasing pace. At the same time, though, this Cisco-sponsored study also found that a surprisingly small number of businesses have implemented formal processes and policies related to their use of social media. IT departments have also been left out of the loop when it comes to the adoption of social media tools. Only 10% of the respondents currently involve their IT departments as primary decision makers when it comes to choosing technologies for externally facing social networking initiatives.

This study was sponsored by Cisco and carried out by the IESE Business School in Spain, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the U.S. and the Henley Business School in the United Kingdom. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 100 companies in Europe, Asia and Africa. These businesses were selected because they were early adopters of social media tools.

Most of the interviewed companies are using social networks (75%) and micro-blogging tools (50%) as their primary tools to reach their audiences. The study found that social networking tools like blogs, Yammer, Facebook and Twitter are now being used by almost every department in these businesses.

The Honeymoon is Over

As Neil Hair, assistant professor of marketing at Rochester Institute of Technology and one of the lead researchers of this study told us yesterday, it is also important to note that “the honeymoon period” for social media in the enterprise is coming to an end. Early projects were often led by one or two early adopters who were enthusiastic about the possibilities of using social media tools in their companies. Now, more and more companies are seeing social media as an integral part in how they communicate with customers and vendors.

Missing Pieces: Governance and IT

Only 1 in 7 companies have formalized a process for adopting and deploying these tools, however. Only 1 in 5 of the interviewed companies have created internal policies that govern the use of these tools by their employees. As the researchers noted, quite a few companies struggle with finding the right balance between “the social and personal nature of these tools while maintaining some amount of corporate oversight.”

Very few companies (1 in 10) report that their IT departments are directly involved in their social networking initiatives. As these tools become more important, however, the the demand on IT to integrate these tools into the existing infrastructure will surely rise as well.

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