Control Issues: What are the Rules of Engagement for Your Social Network
As associations welcome their constituents to join them in organizations’ social networks, whole worlds of opportunities open up for community building, marketing and networking. With those opportunities come an entirely new set of questions and responsibilities related to giving up control about what is said about the organizations and who says it.
- Can anyone join a community?
- Are comments and discussions monitored or moderated?
- What should the rules of engagement be?
- What are the consequences when someone breaks the rules?
- Can you allow open conversations and build trust while maintaining some sense of control over dialog about your organization?
We consider our Engage365 community to be self-policing by a very involved membership. Our thought leaders and co-sponsors set the tone for the conversations, and we have guidelines that we share with members. We’ve never felt the need to censor comments or step in to stop a conversation.
My Short-Lived MPI’s WEC Event Community Experience
But other organizations have different policies. In late July, I attended MPI’s World Education Conference as a sponsor and as an attendee (We have been proud sponsors of this event and other MPI national and local events for many years). At this year’s event I got a little frustrated with the absence of handouts at the sessions I attended. As well, my colleague experienced presenters expressing their disappointment and frequent apologies for not having handouts. Because we print educational meeting materials and handouts for hundreds of associations, I made this offer (on our blog) to the presenters: Omnipress will print handouts at no cost to presenters for the 2011 World Education Conference.
As you know, MPI is leading the way on adopting social technologies so I shared my “free printing offer” post with the members of the MPI event community.
Subject: All: An offer to 2011 MPI WEC Speakers
From: David McKnight
Sent: 08/10/2010 at 01:08AM
MPI WEC is a great event. I view it as a must for meeting planners and those that serve them. The networking open doors then learning moves us forward. Not only do I believe it…I’ want to invest in it. So, to help keep the “learning” at high levels I’ve made this offer to all 2011 WEC speakers.
Visit our blog http://bit.ly/baJzET or read below, comments welcome.
…learning should not be a trade off for corporate social responsibility….we can do both…that ensures sustainability.——-
Just like that, I don’t exist.
When I talked to the community leaders at MPI, they apologized for not contacting me to discuss my comments and to inform me of their decision to delete my profile.
As a member of their community, I have to say I was a little taken back with the censorship as well as the lack of communication. But it really brings up the bigger issues about organizations’ social media policies, control and ways to handle controversial or distasteful comments. So here are my questions for our readers and communities:
- Do you have a written policy about what type of content is acceptable?
- How do you share your policy with the community?
- Are there different rules or levels of tolerance for sponsors vs. members?
- Who makes the call about content: a community manager? the community itself?
If you had been in MPI’s shoes, how would your organization have handled my comments?