Policing social media

As we continue our social media experiments, one of the biggest questions we’ve been trying to answer is just how, exactly, do you manage bad behaviour?

This is a new medium, and our employees haven’t had as direct a path to an audience before. What if this new means of communications gets abused? It makes people nervous.

Here is why social media is very challenging for a financial institution: there are lots of people, namely every single person in a branch besides the many in corporate offices, who know things they are not allowed – by law – to talk about. That’s a lot of trust you have to delegate. Tens of thousands of opportunities for something to go wrong.

On the other hand, these are the same people entrusted with access to core systems and actual cash.

The power of social media is that things get very public, very quickly. Delegating that requires a leap of faith. The belief that most of the time, most people will use the tools to further their work lives is a core prerequisite to a rollout of the technology, and if that’s not there, social media tools aren’t for you.

One thing that seems useful is turning off any features which allow user generated content in anonymous mode. It seems that people are way more likely to be moderate if they have to stand by their convictions in public. Dissent is expressed constructively, and the tone of the conversation usually winds up a positive one.

On the anonymous Internet, things are not so positive. Which, I suppose, is why user generated content efforts by financial institutions to date seem to feature moderation so often.

A lesson I’ve taken away from our work so far: social media tools used inside the firewall are culturally very different to ones outside it. People behave differently. In answer to my question that started this post, then, it seems that our social media is largely self regulating. No huge investment in management of behaviour required.

2 Responses to“Policing social media”

  1. April 21, 2008 at 2:24 am #

    Self regulated, and I would add peer regulated. Particularly within the enterprise, where identity is known, and controlled, I would think this is the more so. People will consider their position and reputation before speaking. This is also a hindrance, and will result in some dysfunction, but in general it has to be a positive for the enterprise.

  2. April 22, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    Totally agree Colin, and think that is what is happening for us.

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