Since the majority of people reading this blog work in the information technology (IT) industry, you probably have a multitude of reasons why you think access to social media in the workplace is a bad idea.
At the top of the list are likely fears about information and network security and concerns about bandwidth. Quite frankly, you could overwhelm us marketing/public relations professionals with a laundry list of risks and terminology we aren’t familiar with.
But although I’m certainly no IT expert, one thing I do know is this: social media isn’t going away. The sooner we all realize that and fully embrace it, the better off we’ll be.
That being said, the technological concerns about social media access in the workplace aren’t going away either. Viruses and hackers are here to stay as well. So is the business of securing information.
These issues deserve attention and can’t be ignored. To my fellow health care marketing, public relations or communications professionals reading this, get your IT department involved in your unblocking effort very early on. They will obviously play a huge role and can help guide you through their piece of the unblocking puzzle.
Like I’ve pointed out in earlier blog posts in this series, you likely already have the safeguards and policies in place to protect against threats to information and network security in your workplace.
Does your health care organization have software like firewalls and antivirus protection? Do you have regulatory compliance policies and Internet usage guidelines? You may want to update these policies to reflect their applications to social media or maybe incorporate them in your company social media policy.
Take NBC News for example. Are you familiar with their Sept. 11 Twitter hacking scandal? You can read about it here, but I’ll summarize the main points…
Their social media director opened an email attachment with a Trojan Horse that installed a remote keylogger. His password to the NBC News Twitter account was obtained and bogus information about terrorist attacks was tweeted from the account. It caused quite a stir, but NBC quickly recovered from the incident.
My point in sharing this story is to illustrate that these situations aren’t necessarily unique to social media. Hackers and keyloggers are nothing new. The attack also came in via email, not a social media site. So blocking social media didn’t stop this incident from happening.
As far as bandwidth concerns go, do your employees have access to movie and music streaming sites? Are they able to live stream national news events simultaneously? I’m willing to bet you probably had issues during the last presidential inauguration or the Casey Anthony trial.
If it’s YouTube you’re worried about, the probability that a large number of your employees will be on the site at the exact same time watching videos is unlikely. If they are, as I pointed out in my last post, it’s mainly a managerial issue, not a technology concern.
Again, it all comes down to education. Instead of blocking your employees from social media in an effort to protect them, empower them with knowledge. Simply cutting off their access may not be the answer to solving security issues and bandwidth concerns.
At the end of the day, we can’t just block access to social media, cross our fingers and ride out this “trend.” That’s not a solution. Social media is here to stay.
Who knows, the mighty Facebook empire may collapse one day and Twitter may go the way of AOL Instant Messenger, but while the tools may come and go, the concept isn’t going anywhere because it’s a basic function of society. Socializing, conversing and connecting with others is what we do as human beings. It’s really not about the technology.
Ashley Howland is the social media manager for Baylor Health Care System, a network of 300 health care access points including acute care hospitals, surgery centers and clinics in Dallas, TX. She has been a member of the Marketing/Public Relations department for seven years with a strong background in media relations. In 2009, she built a robust social media program from the ground up and now oversees the strategy and content for Baylor’s primary social media networks. Additionally, she serves as the organization’s online spokesperson and as the editor of Baylor’s “Sammons Says” blog covering cancer prevention, treatment and research. This year, she helped lead an internal cross-departmental effort to unblock access to social media websites within her organization.
Part 3. Social media isn’t going away.
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