IT World Canada: Province of Ontario's social media policy evolves

(27-Sept-11) Four years after it banned the use of Facebook, YouTube and similar tools by employees, the government is figuring out how to strike an appropriate balance between flexibility and risk management

Social media is like any other tool in a company’s marketing arsenal: It can bolster brand awareness, improve engagement with customers and ultimately translate into increased market share, but it can also trigger a public relations nightmare when companies jump in without a well thought-out strategy.

Just ask New York fashion designer Kenneth Cole who infamously tied the turmoil in Cairo, Egypt earlier this year to the launch of his new spring collection via Twitter.

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -KC.”

The post prompted a barrage of angry comments from critics to which Cole responded with an apology, but the damage was done.

Organizations anxious to leverage the power of this brave new world are flocking to social media sites in record numbers. A recent survey from Regus, a global provider of flexible workplace solutions, indicates that almost 70 per cent of Canadian businesses say social media is playing a bigger role in their marketing strategy, and close to half of Canadian businesses surveyed said they use Web sites such as Twitter to engage, connect with and inform customers. Canadian companies are also investing resources and dollars in the social media efforts according to the survey: More than 40 per cent dedicate up to one-fifth of their marketing budgets to social networking activities.

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