CIOs Need To Know: Is There Such A Thing As Safe Social Networking?

You can never be too cautious when it comes to social networking
You can never be too cautious when it comes to social networking
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Congratulations CIO: the world that you are operating in has become a lot more complex lately. What this means for you is that you’re going to have to determine what the new rules are for being successful in this world are and how to maximize the importance of information technology for your company. One area that is going to require a great deal of study on your part is the complex world of social networking: what is permitted and what is going too far?

The Problem With Social Media

As the person with company’s CIO job, you have a real challenge when it comes to managing how people in the company interact with customers. Depending on which industry your company operates in, there may be stringent rules that require you to monitor what the company’s employees are telling its customers. Financial services companies are especially aware of this.

No matter which social networking tool you are talking about, be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., what the company’s employees have used these networks to tell customers may have to be produced if the company is sued or prosecuted by the government.

Social networks pose a problem for a CIO for two very different reasons. The first is that they often take place outside of the traditional corporate network. What this means that that the tools that you may be using to monitor what goes on at work, may not pick up what is going on in the world of social networking. Additionally, the sheer volume of the amount of interaction that can occur between employees and customers via social networks in the span of even a single day can easily overwhelm any monitoring system that you may have in place.

How CIOs Can Safely Use Social Media

The first step in creating a way for your company’s employees to use social media in a way that won’t harm the company, is to take a look at how they create their online profiles. What an employee says in their online profile could easily step over the line of what is permitted. The CIO has to set up a way for each employee’s proposed online profile to be vetted and approved. This might be a good time to reach out to the company’s compliance department, if it exists, and use their resources to accomplish this task.

The next step is to understand what the IT department really wants to do when it comes to social media. The goal is not to play policeman. Rather, the IT department needs to collect and store information so that if it is ever needed, it can be retrieved. Additionally, if there is ever a hint that something improper might be going on, senior management needs to be able to inspect an employee’s interactions with customers.

The good news is that software that can perform this task now exists. Software that can archive electronic communications no matter where the user is currently located, be it at work or at home, is now available to the person in the CIO position. This software works by logging activity by account, not by location. These tools also allow conversations to be spot-checked to ensure that they are in compliance with both company and industry rules.

What All Of This Means For You

The job of being CIO just got a lot more difficult. On top of everything else that you have to do, you now also have to find a way to ensure that the company’s employees are correctly using the wide range of social media tools that they now have available to them.

The first step in making sure that social media is being used correctly is to create a process by which employee’s online profiles are checked before being posted. Ask the company’s compliance department to help out to accomplish this task. Next, install software that can track social media activity by account. This will allow you to capture all interactions with a customer no matter where the employee happens to be located.

The good news is that the tools that are needed to track how your employees are interacting with customers via social media now exist. You will still be challenged to both implement and use these tools correctly. Take the time to study your situation very carefully and then move quickly to get on top of your company’s social media challenges.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it makes sense to restrict which social media networks your company’s employees use?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As CIO you know that despite the importance of information technology, networking is so much more than just connecting servers with cables. It turns out that it has a lot to do with meeting new people and expanding your social network. This is valuable stuff. Now the big question is how to go about doing it correctly…?

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