Vikram is facing an issue which many organizations who don’t have a clear social media governance policy and strategy encounter.
In my blog case study – ‘Who Will Bell the Social Media Cat?’ we looked at a crisis situation where a disgruntled employee created objectionable content against the organization he worked for and how the leadership and communications teams reacted.
A couple of interesting comments came in on this post. Rama felt that educating employees on social media guidelines can help preempt such issues and have clear policies on social media usage can steer employees away from turning rogue. She believes that tackling social media isn’t one person’s responsibility.
Sagarika offered a contrarian viewpoint. Her argument is that organizations can’t afford to invest more than they can manage when it comes to social media. Such incidents are bound to occur with the growth of social media and there isn’t an easy answer. Therefore, her recommendation is to foster a culture of openness and encourage dialogue between employees and leaders so that such issues surface before they become viral.
Both are right in their own ways.
Even though Asha (the social media manager) is a focal point of all things digital at the organization it is clear that her attempts to overcome the scenario are knee-jerk at best. Possibly, investing in a social media listening exercise can give Asha more depth into the types of conversations and sentiments that arise.
It is evident from their discussion that they are all coming to the conversation from their respective work angles. Vikram (the Marcom head) sees it as a communications concern, Raj (the CEO) thinks it is a culture issue and Alex (the HR head) is convinced that the employees needs to be disciplined. No one believes that they need to be getting under the skin of the employee to gauge the sentiment. Is this a niggling issue? Can it occur again? How can we address why employees feel this way?
The second issue is that they all want to get done with the episode sooner than later and if it means sending mixed signals about the organization’s intentions they care little about the implications.
So, coming back to the questions this case poses:
Whose ownership is it to intervene and take the lead?
Since the organization has a social media manager and invested in this function it is clear that they have the right intent. However, they need to have a governance model which defines who needs to tackle what kind of crisis and how soon. The key groups to be involved are the marketing communications team, the leadership team and the digital team. The legal department and HR can be involved only for their viewpoints but not for specific actions that relate to social media.
What can the group do to get ahead of the situation?
By ascertaining the extent of the damage the team can decide the next course of action. To begin, they must establish contact with the individual concerned and probe further on the cause for his or her frustration. Then, address it directly with the individual. Going forward, they can invest in training employees on social media, getting leaders to be active on channels and establish a protocol for responding to such crisis scenarios.
In this specific scenario, the leader must inform all employees on the incident and explain the steps the organization is taking to address the issue. The digital marketing team can create similar case studies and coach leaders and employees on how to react if such scenarios come up in the future.
Have other recommendations? Do share them here.
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