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Creating Workable Policies for the Web 2.0 World



Many business leaders are leveraging the power of Web 2.0 and social media, but they are still concerned about the resource impacts and policy implications of these tools.

Smart business leaders are developing formal Web 2.0 / social media policies linked to their strategies for their organizations. Although existing E-mail or web content policies may already contemplate some of your expectations of usage, nuances may remain that any organization needs to address.

The following steps can help ensure smooth navigation of Web 2.0 for your organization.

Step 1 – Identify and Validate the Case

Many organizations are feeling pushed into Web 2.0. Executives are grappling with stories of market gains, rapidly changing customer expectations, a new generation of workers accustomed to social media tools, and new applications that claim to boost productivity.

Identify and validate the business or use case as the first step in protecting your organization against destructive Web 2.0 behaviors. If you are feeling rushed to get into the Web 2.0 arena then you probably are rushed. Take the time to get comfortable with Web 2.0 / social media by asking for the business rationale or use case:

Why does your organization need Web 2.0 / social media technologies and tools?

How will these tools make your organization better, more efficient or responsive?

How will these tools meet the needs of your organization’s clients and your citizens?

How do you pay for Web 2.0?

Could you face opportunity costs for not moving to Web 2.0?

If you can’t answer these questions, your organization may be moving too fast.

Poll your organization. Find out how your staff plans to use Web 2.0 applications. Qualify the responses, define, and document the return on investment. Documenting the planned return is critical to the evaluation process further down the road.

You will likely find parts of the organization that have a valid use for Web 2.0 applications, while many others will not have valid uses.

Be critical. Most organizations are not strong enough to be truly critical of themselves. It often takes an outsider to honestly question the value proposition of new technologies, tools or processes because the insiders are too close to the process.

Step 2 – Catalog the concerns

With most things the upside is accompanied by a downside. Executives need to understand and catalog the risks. Collect the organizational concerns or examples of abuse both inside and outside of your organization. Solicit help from the enterprise, and beyond, to identify the downsides.

Documenting these findings will go far in the monitoring process and should not be short-circuited. After you have collected the known concerns, develop a risk matrix with mitigation strategies. Identify what the enterprise is and is not willing to accept.

Step 3 – Leverage talent

The executive can’t develop a Web 2.0 / social media policy in a vacuum. Leverage diverse talent within your organization. A strong cross-sectional team should include varying levels of staff (managers and non-managers) and various departments (to include HR and legal).

Leverage the work done by your predecessors in this arena. Look across and outside of the business community for best-practice examples. Read the user agreements or terms of service (TOS) of the Web 2.0 / social media applications you wish to employ for clues as to what you should be protecting yourself against. Chances are, if the TOS excludes something, there is a good reason for you to protect yourself.

Leverage periodic keyword searches and regular consultation with your legal department for clues to the rapidly developing legal climate.

The typical Web 2.0 / social media policy will contain the following clauses:

Abuse – the system or service can’t be used for non-business purposes

Illegal – can only be used for lawful purposes

Privacy – establishes privacy expectation for the user (generally none, but this has been successfully challenged)

Scope – defines the appropriate equipment and times to be engaged (for example, company asset on premise)

Intellectual Property – restricts transfer of critical proprietary information

Consequences – articulates the risk of violating the policy

Step 4 – Vetting

It is important to vet your policy before rolling it out to the enterprise. Visit a variety of departments to discuss the proposed policy. Solicit concerns, challenges and positive feedback. Show why the policy should be accepted across the enterprise. The vetting process should provide opportunities to fine tune your policy and message.

Step 5 – Implementation

You should have organizational buy-in at this stage. A senior member of the leadership team should deliver the message about adoption of this policy. Typical implementations include a methodology or approach to training and testing of the policy.

It is appropriate to have some form of annual signoff of the policy by employees. Make comprehension of this policy a condition of employment where applicable.

Step 6 – Monitor, modify and repeat

Policies are dynamic. Leaders must monitor compliance to the policies, have a mechanism to modify the policy and retrain staff when necessary.

Remember the documentation collected for the use case? That use case becomes part of the baseline. Is the reason for utilizing the Web 2.0 / social media applications being realized? Have any of your concerns have been realized? These components go back into the evaluation process.

Today it is too risky to proceed without a Web 2.0 / social media policy. Without a policy the expectations are unknown and will surely be violated. Uneven compliance will open the enterprise to legal action and bad will.

Following these simple steps will help ensure you can successfully navigate the use of Web 2.0 / social media applications.


For additional assistance register for the June 17, 2010 - 90 minute workshop on "Creating Workable Polices for the Web 2.0 World". Attendees will leave understanding:

  • Where Web 2.0 / Social media has improved market channels and has led to more sales
  • Where there are cause for concerns and pitfalls to avoid
  • How to develop a workable policy for your organization


Who: C2 IT Advisors

What: Creating Workable Policies for the Web 2.0 World workshop

When: Thursday, June 29, 2010, 5:30 - 7:00 PM *** NEW DATE ***

Where: 825 Barr St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Investment: Free to TQM members, $29.99 for non members

For: Business Owners, Managers, HR Directors, CIO's and other Information Technology leaders & strategists

Click below to register.



Contact us immediately for individual help embracing and integrating these critical tools for success.

About C2 IT Advisors

C2 IT Advisors is a strategic Information Technology advisory firm.  We are a trusted advisor and honest broker regarding IT concerns for the senior leadership team.  C2 IT Advisors can be part of your virtual team by attending management and planning meetings or can be engage on a project basis.  We can help evaluate the organizational IT capacity, perform SWOT analysis, or recommend process improvement and workflow enhancement all to the bottom line.


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