Regardless of whether social media accounts are being used for professional or personal use, employees must recognize they represent their workplace when they post anything publicly. It is unacceptable to me to say otherwise.
What bothers me about these media reports isn’t so much that the employees in question didn’t use common sense. Seriously – who thinks complaining about your boss (or a potential employer) on Twitter is a good idea? What irks me is that the organizations didn’t do the responsible thing and protect their employees from themselves. If your organization doesn’t educate people on the responsible way to use social media that is publicly available (read: not private), you are giving them permission to decide what’s appropriate themselves.
Some things are best left unsaid (publicly)
Someone once taught me that there are three things you don’t mix with business: religion, sex and politics. I feel the same sensibilities apply to using social media in public. Today, hiring managers make it a priority to search candidates before they are hired. A manager friend once told me this story. He had two ideal candidates for a role, and was finding it tricky to make a final decision. Both candidates were capable, personable and well credentialed. He decided to Google them and see what he could find. The first candidate had very little publicly available beyond their LinkedIn profile. On the other hand, it turns out the second candidate had tweeted a bunch of misogynistic vitriol. Guess which candidate got the offer?
Letting people decide what’s appropriate for themselves – for both personal and professional social profiles – is just bad for business.
Every organization – regardless of size – must have guidelines in place to govern social media usage.
When an organization has clear social media guidelines in place, it does two critical things:
- Clearly states what is – and isn’t – appropriate for employees to talk about via social media
- Puts your organization in a defensible position to deal with employees when mis-use does arise
Whether you’re a small consultancy, retail operation, political party or large enterprise – you need social media guidelines that are easy to understand and available to every employee. There are literally thousands now available online from many socially-savvy companies like IBM, Cisco and Dell.
Guidelines for you to adapt and use.
With input from cross-functional stakeholders across our company, I created the following social media guidelines. I encourage you to adapt and use them for your organization. They just might save your company from tomorrow’s headlines.
|At Softchoice, our goal is to use social media to build deeper relationships within our organization and beyond its borders.Social media tools like blogs, Twitter, Yammer, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn have become a fact of life and a primary means of communication. They’re also a great way to promote the value we provide to our customers – inside and outside the organization.Accordingly, we want everyone using social media in ways that protects our reputation as a first-class business partner, while promoting Softchoice as a progressive, technology-forward organization. The purpose of these guidelines is to establish standards and expectations that allow our people to participate online in an engaging and responsible way.
These principles protect the Softchoice brand and the reputations of our vendors, partners and customers while enabling everyone to share and learn from each other. Social media offers new (and sometimes untested) ways of engaging with customers, colleagues and the world at large.So if you choose to participate in social media while an employee of Softchoice, please follow these guiding principles:
Ten “No-No’s” of Social Media at Softchoice:
Ten “Yes-Yeses” of Social Media at Softchoice:
Understand there can be consequences.
By participating in social media while at Softchoice (for personal or professional use), you acknowledge that you can:
Do you feel these guidelines are clear? What situations can you imagine that aren’t covered by what’s included? If something is missing, what would you add? Please add it – and your opinion on the post – in the comments below.