Seventy-five percent of Fortune 500 companies have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts, according to a recent study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In addition to the complexity of managing corporate social accounts, many of these companies are now looking to employees as influencers – helping to spread the brand message through their own personal networks. As a CIO, I work with marketing to empower employees, helping them leverage these channels while ensuring compliance and security.

The Old Way

Before social media was so integral to delivering your brand message to potential customers, IT often focused on controlling and limiting access to social channels, with the hope of effectively protecting the company and minimizing employee distractions. The old way of thinking was that Facebook wasn’t a work tool, so it should be restricted. Online chat was counter-productive to getting work done, so it should be shut off. But times have changed – IT’s reign over social engagement is simply over. The CIO is now focused on embracing social media and working with the CMO and other executives to determine how to best use these tools.

Social as a Thoughtful Business Channel

Here at Marketo, we have incorporated social media into our day-to-day practices and are using it as a critical channel for multiple functions within our business. The marketing team uses social media for branding and communications, our customer support teams use it to help customers get the answers they need, our sales teams engage with prospects and uses it to augment sales data, and we encourage our entire company to be on social media to help evangelize our message. But the leap to social media as an integrated part of business requires that guidelines be put in place.

Putting a Structure in Place

Because we encourage collaboration and interaction on social channels, we created a company-wide social media policy to guide company communications. The goal of this policy is to ensure consistent company messaging, coupled with rules of engagement, in a clear and simple format. Easy to understand and digest, ya’ know? You can read ours by visiting trust.marketo.com, but here are some of the key components we outline for employees:

  • Do not share confidential or proprietary information
  • Do not misrepresent yourself or your company
  • Do not lie
  • Do not make personal attacks or speak negatively about Marketo employees, customers, prospects, etc.
  • Do disclose whether you are acting as a company representative
  • Do think before you post

We make sure this document is readily available for employees on our website, on our internal Wiki, and in our handbook. We also make sure to train all incoming employees on our policy during orientation.

Choosing the Right Tools

In addition to encouraging the use of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, we also have worked to vet additional social tools that benefit the business. For instance, we use a tool called GaggleAmp to align our social media messaging and promote social sharing across the organization. Employees can sign up and receive incentives for sharing social messages that promote product launches, new content assets, events, and other important company information. We also use Salesforce Chatter as our internal social network for employee collaboration.

This is just another example of IT and marketing working hand-in-hand to evaluate and align behind solutions that benefit both departments. Together we evaluated vendors, engaged in various demos, and made a data-driven decision. By embracing social as an entity and working together cross-functionally, we were able to select our social tools intelligently.

In yesterday’s workplace, social media was seen by many as a drain – a waste of your team’s resources and time. Today, companies recognize the power of authentic engagement with social media, and the wisdom of both seeking and cultivating influencers within your team. There’s clearly a reason that leading companies have recognized the value of their employees’ engagement. Experts make the best evangelists; and resisting social media is now the waste of time.