Twitter Birds, Close Up

With all the talk about the complaint PhoneDog.com filed against Noah Kravitz for “misappropriation of trade secrets and damaged the company’s business, goodwill, and reputation” some companies are liable to update their social media policy.

But those that do are making a mistake. Because if they’re going to be heard through social media, they’re going to need as much help as they can get. And they’re not going to get it by imposing ownership claims over their personal social media accounts

I don’t intend to make any substantial changes to my Social Media Policy Template because of it, and here’s why:

On social networks, crowds direct our attention. If it trends, it upends. And if it doesn’t, it just ends.

What one person tweets matters only a little. What the crowd retweets, matters most. The same social gravity applies on Facebook, Linkedin and G+.  An effective corporate social media policy protects the organization and its employees alike. Afterall, why would your employees retweet your message on their personal social networking account if they’re concerned it might get them fired, or if they’re concerned you might someday try and take it away from them?

Imposing strict ownership requirements over an employee’s personal social media account discourages them from using social media for on theior employers behlaf, which means they won’t be retweeting your message.  And in nowadays, you need retweets, Likes and +1s to get noticed. So a good social media policy must encourage employee participation.

Sree Sreenivasan, a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, who is paraphrased in a story about the incident by New York Times reporter John Biggs (@JohnBiggs) says it best:

…many industries had policies that required sales staff to leave their Rolodexes behind, but that these policies were as relevant to social media as Rolodexes are to the modern office. After all, social media accounts are, almost by definition, personal.

He also said that the average Twitter account had less clout than many might think.

On social networks, we crowd source news and information. If companies want to get noticed, they’ve got to get crowds talking. And in most cases, their employees are going to be easiest place to start.

Do you intend to update your social media policy as a result of this complaint, or will you wait to see what legal precedent, if any, transpires?

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Image By: Dbarefoot