Rather than blocking access to social media websites, organizations from businesses to federal agencies need to tap the value of social media, technology consultant Jesse Wilkins said Wednesday.
Speaking to a crowd at the info360 information management conference in Washington, D.C., Wilkins said too many organizations are ignoring social media and treating the emerging tools as passing fads.
"We shouldn't stand in front of the steamroller," said Wilkins, director of systems engagement for the Association for Information and Image Management. He said prohibiting employees from accessing social websites like Facebook or Twitter "is just not realistic."
Anyone with a mobile device can bypass organization firewalls, and there are too many sites to completely block them all, Wilkins noted. Most importantly, he argued, organizations that block social sites or don't have official sites are missing out on important tools.
Rather than engaging in a losing battle against burgeoning social media websites, companies and agencies should develop a basic governance policy to guide the use of such resources, and work to ensure the tools are used constructively.
"You need a governance framework so people know what's expected," Wilkins said. "Not just what you can or cannot do, but how to use it effectively."
Such policies should be broad enough that organizations don't have to change them every time a new website or feature pops up. "It's not the tool that matters, it's the content," he said.
In today's highly litigious world, organizations can't afford to not have guidelines in place to prevent unwanted publicity or lawsuits based on misused social sites, Wilkins concluded. But, he said, trying to block such sites completely won't matter if an offensive or embarrassing item ends up in news reports.