NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik has a thriving social media presence. He suggested that organizations need to allow journalists to have an authentic voice on social media, but that individual journalists also need to take responsibility for what they say publicly, whether or not their organization has a clear social media policy in place.
“You give up the notion of being a completely private person,” Folkenflik told me in a phone conversation last month. “I don’t feel as though NPR is perched on my shoulder while I’m tweeting,” Folkenflik said, but added that he follows the same guidelines that he would follow if he were on television or speaking at a public event; he has a personality but is not dogmatic. “People often confuse ‘ideological’ with ‘having a voice,’ ” Folkenflik said.
Brittney Gilbert, Social Media Editor for NBC Bay Area, echoed this sentiment, citing the fact that audiences prefer to connect with personalities on Twitter, not brands.
“People would much rather interact with NBC Bay Area’s meteorologist or sports reporter than a faceless entity such as NBC,” Gilbert told me via email. Gilbert said that a productive and healthy social media policy is one that encourages staffers to use social media while at work because doing so, “will only further familiarize team members to the platform they are using.”
But in order to reach a point at which journalists and others are familiarizing themselves with social media or even maintaining brands they’ve already built, employers and employees need to work together to craft social media policy in order to ensure that everyone understands the goals.