Mobilizing Your Social Media Workforce

macbook-privacyHave you thought about the potential of mobilizing your entire workforce through social media rather than one or two individual voices?  What are the steps to harness the power of social media within the organization? I’ve been doing a lot of work in the area of social media policy development, training and governance over the past few years. A friend and colleague, Eric Schwartzman (@ericschwartzman), CEO of social media training provider Comply Socially, shares my passion for educating companies on how they can leverage social media effectively.

I recently connected with Eric for a couple of reasons. First, it’s always great to catch up with friends. I also wanted to check out a demo of Comply Socially and discuss with Eric the best ways to mobilize a workforce to scale social media engagement.  Here’s the Q&A with Eric who shares his insights on the topic.

1. Why is it important for companies to not only develop a social media policy but to also provide training and governance?

Lawful social media policies are important because they give organizations a basis for governing how employees use social networks for work. They play a role in how employers manage social media risk and compliance. But most social media policies are unlawful.

In 2013, there were 28 National Labor Relations Board cases of wrongful terminations at Costco, EchoStar and other companies based on unlawful social media policies. So if you want to make sure your social media policy is lawful, don’t include any language that could be seen chilling workers rights to discuss wages, hours and working conditions. We have a free white paper on drafting social media policies for those who want to steer clear of the land mines.

But even if your social media policy is lawful, don’t expect anyone to actually read it. According to an NYU study of how many people actually read end user license agreements online before accepting them, only one or two out of every thousand retail software shoppers even open the license agreement when they make a purchase, and those few who do spend far too little time to read more than a small portion of the license text.

So if you want them to comply with your social media policy, they need social media policy training.

2. There is a lot organizations should be doing, but resources are always an issue. Why is social media policy training something they should do now?

What’s crazy is we spend so much time on crisis management and barely any time at all preventing them from happening. And crisis management is so much more expensive and so much less effective than preventative measures.

The first question you’ll be asked in a legal dispute is, “Was the employee trained?”

When there’s a case where the social media compliance issues weren’t discovered or where they were ignored, the consequences are exceedingly severe. Now’s the time to get in front of this because government regulations have spiked under the Obama administration. The new SEC chair Mary Jo White and the new FTC chair Edith Ramirez are more aggressive on enforcement.

Social media policy without training is lip service, because you can’t comply with a policy you don’t understand. You can’t protect yourself, or your organization, if you don’t understand the risks.  That’s why we introduced a self-paced social media policy training curriculum with assessments and certification management.

3.  What do most companies “fear” when it comes to employees or members of their organization participating in social media on their behalf?

They fear social media risk because it’s unmanageable. The risks are real. Their fears are warranted.

Damaged reputations can result in lost sales, lowered perceived value and long-term financial instability. You don’t have to be malicious to damage your employer’s reputation. Just choose an easy to hack password or fall for a social engineering scam, and you can obliterate brand value.

When the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the AP’s Twitter account and sent a bogus tweet about explosions in the White House, the Dow plunged 140 points.

Leaked proprietary data can jeopardize competitiveness. Think of how easy it is to your reveal your customers or suppliers by syncing your social networking connections with your web mail account. All it takes is a few clicks.

Being out of compliance with the increasingly complex rules and regulations around how companies can and can’t use social media can result in fines, investigations and complaints, draining worker productivity and lowering morale. It’s really easy for discrimination, harassment and defamation to creep out onto social networks.

Viruses and malware can cripple productivity and be very expensive to purge. And increasingly, as employees bring their own devices to work, access their employer’s wireless network and charge their batteries off the USB ports of employer owned hardware, the likelihood of security breaches and industrial espionage increases as well.

4. Why did you launch Comply Socially and how will your platform help companies to be more compliant in their social media communications?

After training thousands of communicators at federal government agencies, military commands, multinational corporations and non-profits and seeing them all hit the same brick wall, I thought there has to be a way to leverage eLearning to manage social media risk.

To authentically engage at a personal and local level, organizations are becoming less interested in enabling one or two voices to manage their corporate social media accounts, and much more intent on mobilizing their entire workforce to scale social media engagement. I wrote a white paper on this topic as well that you can download here if you’re interested.

5.  What are some good resources for companies who want to be frequently updated on social compliance?

iphone-trainingYou can sign up for the Social Media Compliance Newsletter at and follow the company on Twitter @complysocially. (Eric was also kind enough to set up a link for my blog readers to access one of their self-paced social media compliance trainings courses for free:

I hope you will check out Comply Socially and share your thoughts about social media policies, training and compliance with us.