The B.C. government is creating guidelines for the use of social media among its employees. In fact, it's going further than that, covering the usage of social networking sites and other tools as channels for citizen journalism and weighing in on policy decisions.
Allan Seckel is the deputy minister to the B.C. premier, and head of the province's public service. At a Vancouver conference on Tuesday, he told the audience that the government recognizes social media as a new tool in the workplace, and should be embraced before banned or discouraged.
"These tools are incredibly important internally and externally in terms of how you communicate," Allan told the conference, called Communicating to the Public and Employees in the Age of Social Media.
Allan admitted there is a risk associated with handing over that kind of internet freedom to employees, but, "we have every confidence our employees can be trusted," he said.
Trying to ban the use of social media in the workplace is apt to simply drive it underground, according to Allan. "We want to say to our employees that we trust them and we do trust them to be responsible."
Allan cited scenarios where citizens were able to keep their community constantly updated via social media during forest fires, and that by participating in discussions on government-run blogs, your voice will be heard.
It's a good early-adoption effort to satisfy the social media addicts in today's office, but honestly, it's probably not going to make a difference. Social media is used when, where, and how the user wants. Guidelines seldom affect that sort of thing.