WikiLeaks scares and intrigues me. In case you are wondering exactly what it is, WikiLeaks is a website that published anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive governmental, corporate, organizational, or religious documents, while attempting to preserve the anonymity and untraceability of its contributors. It has been in the news countless times in the last few months, and no one is quite sure what to do about it.
Don’t Go Overboard
I’ve heard through the grapevine that organizations are afraid of WikiLeaks too. That may be why even more companies are considering cracking down on employees’ use of social media. Even prior to WikiLeaks, in an effort to prevent the breech of confidential material, some have categorically denied access to particular websites.
This approach, however, is unrealistic. Burying your head in the sand and thinking you can stop your employees’ use of social media because you block those sites from the corporate network is simply not going to work.
Devise a Sensible Policy
Instead, consider protecting your organization with a written social media policy that includes the following points:
- Define what you mean by social media — for most, social media means an online forum for two-way communication.
- Clarify who will own work products created on social media sites.
- Spell out the type of information considered proprietary or confidential – customer details, company financial data, etc. — and say that it should never be shared on these sites.
- Spell out the type of potentially damaging information that should never be shared on these sites: offensive comments, libelous statements, illegal activity, etc.
- Determine which employees should be contributing to social media sites on behalf of the company and what activities these individuals should be engaged in.
Be Vigilant About Monitoring
You should have someone in the communications department monitoring what is being said in social media, both from an internal and external perspective. It is the same thing as having a staff member monitor what is said in the press. The conversation will take place with or without you and it’s always best to be informed. It’s not as easy to dictate your image as it used to be, but strategic social-media monitoring and participation can help you shape it.