It is difficult to review a book that does so well that which it sets out to accomplish. The Social Media Handbook is a thorough text that clearly illustrates the topics it will cover along with what it won’t cover. “Mastering social media” like SEO is a phrase thrown around very frequently these days as companies hope their commercials will go viral on YouTube, they’ll get millions of likes on Facebook and millions of followers on Twitter, and their catalog will get pinned on Pinterest. The Social Media Handbook states from the beginning that it will not help you reach those social media milestones of “success”. Instead, it sets out to teach best practices, show social media policies, and use social media in compliance with various regulations.
I first came across author Nancy Flynn’s work a few years back when The ePolicy Handbook was recommended to me as I was investigating a policy regarding employees at a previous organization forwarding email out to Gmail. I never did get to read The ePolicy Handbook but it sat on my “To Read” list for a long time. When I was reviewing that list looking for something to read, I was ready to dive in but on trying to acquire the book I found that The Social Media Handbook had just come out. Piquing my interest, I set to reading her new book which covers social media like Facebook and Twitter to blogging and email.
The Social Media Handbook would make an excellent textbook for a ‘Social Media Use in Organizations’ college class. Just because it is closer to a textbook does not mean that the book is not compelling. It is well written, well organized and mixes instruction with precedent and apt examples. I found myself many times being surprised by the plentiful and detailed examples. Social media is so different from previous technologies because of both its instantaneous speed and forever-remembered attributes. Much of it also invites the public to engage with the company in conversation and other postings. Controlling employees is doable but the public is harder to moderate.
The book is 384 pages across 15 chapters. Its preface articulates and summarizes the topics that the book will cover. It also encourages readers to jump to the various chapters that are relevant to their needs. I found much of it interesting to see from even an outsider perspective. Things like HIPPA (healthcare information), FERPA (education information), and SEC regulations amongst others are very important to remain in compliance with as an organization adopts social media and hopes for gainful use. Given Nancy Flynn’s history of writing on the topic of ePolicy, this book proved her authority on the matter.
The chapter organization allows for easy focus on the information that is relevant to your needs as you read and to make it easy to refer back to as you work on updating acceptable use policies. The chapters include:
- Why every organization needs a social media policy and compliance management program
- Social media and the Law: What every organization needs to know about legal compliance
- Social networking creates legal evidence: How to manage records and e-discovery compliantly
- Regulatory compliance: Government and industry watchdogs keep an eye on the social web
- Privacy, security, and social media: What every employer – and user – should know
- Blog Risks and compliance rules
- Mobile devices drive social media risks
- Seven-step action plan for successful social media policy and compliance management
- Conduct a social media policy audit
- Writing effective social media policies
- Content rules are critical to compliance
- Enforce policy compliance with education
- Reputation management: Responding and recovering from a social networking nightmare
- Sample policies: Social media, blogs, and related AUPs
- Glossary of social media, legal, regulatory, and technology terms
There was a lot of the book that I liked. Overall, I just agreed with the tone the book held. Social media can be used successfully by organizations but it should not be something that is just dived into with plans to learn along the way. By reading The Social Media Handbook, you will be doing your due diligence and your organization will be grounded in reality, not the pipe dreams that many marketing departments seem to believe.
Two quick quotes that illustrate the book’s tone…
“In the age of social media, employers must perform a balancing act. On the one hand, you want to provide enough social web access to keep your business thriving and maintain consideration for some level of personal usage. On the other hand, you are obligated to manage social media use effectively in order to protect your organization’s assets, reputation, and future.”
“In the United States, employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy when using the company’s computer system, sites, accounts, or devices. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) make it clear that the company’s computer system is the property of the employer. The employer has the legal right to monitor employees’ electronic use, content, activity, and transmissions.”
If you are an influence on your organization’s policies, I recommend The Social Media Handbook as a must read to understand the complicated world of social media compliance. Even if you are not at the managerial level, The Social Media Handbook can be good reading for those that work with social media, wish to improve their managerial thinking, or are just interested in the risks and regulations on organizations with new technology.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided for my reading but this review is entirely my own and not influenced by outside factors.