Your first guess to a social media/new media policy from the U.S. Department of Defense might be that the policy is about as thick as the Senate Health Care bill. After all, government can be full of legalese and stipulations. Combine that with the sensitive job of the Defense Department and a social media policy might look messy.
But in reality, the Defense Department’s new social/new media policy is a tiny nine pages long and is incredibly straight forward. The document demonstrates the DoD is encouraging its three million employees to use social media (safely and responsibly) either on or off duty, or at home or abroad.
To the DoD’s credit, this massive organization gets it. Media is everywhere. Access to social network sites is ubiquitous. Millions of young men and women with smart phones is just too much to control. And so the Department responded wisely by understanding what I think is the basic principle of any good organization – the best advocates are an entity’s employees. Yes, more than their customers. That’s because good organizations make their workplace enjoyable and rewarding. Employees spread those good feelings to stakeholders outside the organization.
Going back to the Defense Department, if we stop to think of the organizational culture, we probably can begin to realize that this institution is full of dedicated, focused and loyal men and women. The U.S. government should be facilitating its people to communicate via social/new media. These employees can be the Defense Department’s best advocates.
And that is the lesson for public affairs organizations of any type or size. The best capital we have is our people. Happy, dedicated and loyal employees will make the best advocates. Instead of walling them in, let them go out and be ambassadors.