This week we examine two conceptual issues: the inherent value of social media in records management and the components of corporate social responsibility.

Is There Value in Your Social Media?

We have some good news: According to a recent report published by the National Archives (NARA), not everything produced by Web 2.0 qualifies to be a record.

Phew, right? Wrong!

The Report on Federal Web 2.0 Use and Record Value observed how 25 agencies use Web 2.0 tools to conduct business and identify characteristics all in an attempt to determine the value of information created and shared in Web 2.0 formats. All 25 of the agencies are, in fact using Web 2.0 technologies in some way, including outreach, sharing of information internally, between agencies and with the public.

The report also aimed to outline criteria to determine if a Tweet is more than just a Tweet, so to speak. What they found is that there are certain factors that affect value, including but not limited to:

  • Duplication: The report found that much of the information found in social media tools is duplicative and therefore considered to be non-record material.
  • More Information is Recorded: Because more interactions and decisions (from phone calls to IMs to texts) are documented, more potential record material is created and more metadata is captured, which could add to the contextual value of the information.
  • Reaching New Audiences: Through sharing and reposting by the public, more audiences can be reached with fewer resources needed on the part of the agency. As a result, more people and ideas can add value to the process.
  • Contextual Value: Because many Web 2.0 tools give users the opportunity to view information in new or alternative ways, the original context of the Information can be changed.

I bet you never thought of your social media content in these terms before! But now that NARA has, it sheds some light on the topic. From a GRC perspective, it will certainly help to guide legal teams, while from a content strategy perspective it can help provide meaning to our words and outreach.

The study also provides recommendations about how agencies can develop strategies to understand their information better, from which most companies and other businesses can benefit. The report isn’t meant to be a complete guide for governance and Web 2.0 technologies, but rather it initiates a dialogue that is badly needed, no matter what industry you’re in.

Does GRC = CSR?

Recently, the PR firm Fenton brought together a panel of thought leaders for a Great CSR Debate.

From the Economist’s Matthew Bishop, ThomsonReuters’ Chrystia Freeland, and UN Global Compact’s George Kell, to Campbell Soup’s Dave Stangis and GE Foundation’s Bob Corcoran, the well educated academics and businessmen discussed aspects of corporate social responsibility and ultimately determined what makes a company socially responsible.

The consensus, as you might imagine, wasn’t quite clear, which of course is what makes the whole topic of CSR downright confusing and elusive. With approximately thirty-seven different definitions of CSR existing throughout the business world, as documented by a recent study published by Wiley InterScience, no one really knows if CSR means fair trade and ethical trade models or being compliant with regulatory standards. In her article for the Christian Science Monitor, the panel’s moderator, Christina Arena offered a perspective of what makes CRS most effective. She writes,

When so-called CSR is most effective – when it generates so much value for stakeholders and shareholders that corporations cannot afford to stop investing in it – then it is no longer regarded as CSR, but good business strategy.

We, of course would argue that topics of governance, risk and compliance belong to CSR as well. After all, businesses that adhere to industry regulatory standards and implement policies that govern risk management, are usually better off financially (and legally) than those that don’t. But companies rarely comply because it’s the right thing to do, rather they do it because it saves them money and protects their reputation in the long run.