Set Ground Rules for External Sharing on an Enterprise Social Network
The group owner of any enterprise social network should make plain to all participants who the external users are and whether the composition of the group is fixed or changeable. External users are any person who has access to your enterprise social network who is outside of the organization (not an employee of the organization).
For instance, a private group created for the collaboration between the finance department and its auditors may exist specifically for sharing all sorts of documents and details related to the company’s finances, whereas sharing that data with any other group of external users would be completely inappropriate.
External networks require clear ground rules to prevent misunderstandings about what should and should not be shared with external participants.
The same acceptable use policy for corporate systems that covers what sort of information employees should not e-mail to an external collaborator or post on an external website can be a starting point. Given the many types of participants who may be engaged through an external collaboration group, each group should also spell out its own rules. For consistency, consider defining a few model policies for different classes of external users, which can be tweaked as necessary for different business scenarios.
Suppose you create an external group for collaboration with a business partner on joint development of a new product. Of necessity, group members would be free to discuss all sorts of confidential matters related to the development of that specific product, but not outside of that scope. For example, if you also have a business relationship with that partner’s competitors, it would be inappropriate to share confidential information about that other company.
Other examples of information that would be out of bounds for discussion in a group with external participants would include:
Financials for a public company that have not been publicly released or other information that can materially affect the stock price.
References to internal strategy discussions or content quoted from a CEO blog post intended for internal consumption only.
Jokes or cynical discussion about real or perceived dysfunction in company business practices.