Social media as a benchmark of openness and transparency

On Friday I was talking to someone about the benefits I had gained from social media for research and development.

The person, a senior executive, responded that social media wasn’t really trusted where they worked. That Twitter , in particular, was seen as a risk to the organisation.

Here we are in 2015, and some employers still think social media is think something to be frightened of.

What does having an open social media policy say about a company?

For me , it says nothing about social media and everything about trust.

Trust in your people — you believe that they come to work to do good things , not wreck your reputation.

Trust in yourself — you are an open business and don’t have things to hide. You are ethical and you do good things.

Trust in your customers — you can maintain relationships with them as people rather than passive consumers.

The breakthrough digital has given us is the opportunity to listen to our organisations and our customers in real time. Never before have we had the opportunity to share ourselves and our thoughts. We’ve never been able to work out loud.

But — wake up call — it’s a tiny percentage of leaders who are really living a digital lifestyle. There are still relatively few having open debates , showing transparency in public discourse , answering questions online and sharing progress.

I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions over the past few years about the value of employer presence on social media.

In these conversations I’ve often talked about a “new transparency” — something far more meaningful than whether you publish every item of expenditure over £500.

A transparency that says we are confident , even when facing criticism, in our people and our culture. We encourage each other to post and blog and talk about the work we are doing.

It’s a transparency that says , if you believe in our values then why not be our next customer or next recruitment?

Maybe social media is as good a benchmark of a company's openness and transparency as anything else.