Does your social media policy tell your employees the boundaries they should stay within when hiring social listening, monitoring or mining vendors? Probably not, but it definitely should.
None of the policies in my database of more than 150 policies, templates and guidelines provide guidance to employees on the ethical use of social listening, harvesting, mining, monitoring, or scraping — which are a few of the terms used to describe the process of gathering and processing online social data. As a result, many employees who buy or manage listening tools and social research services don’t even realize that they could be exposing their company to significant brand risk by using social monitoring or mining services that practice questionable data harvesting and processing techniques.
The simple reality is that no industry standards exist, so the boundaries are probably unclear to your employees. But the Wall Street Journal and Gartner recently began to discuss the risks to your brand, and, as a result, relevant industry organizations such as CASRO formed a task force to define industry standards for ethics in social media research and analysis.
In the mean time, it is important that leaders determine the ethics we wish our teams to uphold, and communicate those ethics across the organization through our policies and guidance to our people.