Who can use social media in your company’s name; everyone? only the PR team? trained and certified employees?

I was listening to Carla Buzasi talk about the launch of Huffington Post UK at the Ragan Social Media and PR Summit, Huffington Post uses bloggers and takes them seriously. They trawl through blogs, comments on their own site and twitter looking for potential writers for the site, they’ll link to a story on another source openly. It’s a change in the usual business model for news providers and it seems to be working.

In her presentation Carla Buzasi mentioned that BBC has a policy that you can only use social media on behalf of the company if they’ve already been using twitter for at least two months. My first reaction was that this seems reasonable. But the world at “Huff Post” is different, their approach is to tell people to “get in there and start”.

Cool you think, how brave. But here comes the kicker.

Buzasi went on to mention that in a job interview she’d asked the applicant whether she had any experience in social media – and ended the interview when the answer was no. So the people she’s hired are already social media savvy.

The BBC on the other hand has an established pool of employees, many of whom have no experience in social media. So a two month practice period is a low threshold to get people started. Similarly Dell uses a structured approach of providing policies, training and certification for its employees.

Who’s right? Well, they both are. If you’re a small company, with the luxury of hiring people with strong social media/comms skills the policy free (Buzasi mentioned “Don’t be an idiot” as being the extent of theirs) and go for it approach will work. If you’ve got a pool of employees who are experts in their own field then the approach used by BBC, Dell and others at the conference of building policies and training and working to build the expertise in the company makes far more sense.


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