Social Media – Food for Thought

Social Media – Food for Thought

I'm Watching You

I'm Watching You

With the increased usage of social media like twitter, facebook, youtube and blogs, there is an awareness that word-of-mouth comments about a business can spread very fast.

It is one thing to deal with people outside an organisation making comments or criticisms, but what happens when staff within an organisation starts to share their personal opinions and views online?

Where is the boundary of personal freedom (including freedom of speech) and control of a staff member’s ability to express an opinion publicly?

Some issues can be addressed with clauses within employment agreements regarding confidentiality of information and clauses that mention bringing the organisation into disrepute. There is no difference between offline and online activities in regards to this.

For the person who is using these forums it is good to remember a few basic rules about social media:

• Online, treat everything as public regardless of personal privacy settings

• People, including the media, employers and staff, are watching your personal accounts

• It is recommended to think twice before you post anything online, for example those comments and photos of that party last night may not be the best thing for your employer (or employee) to see.

Remember that it works both ways, you may check up on staff but they may be checking up on you.

Now what happens when staff members who have personal social media accounts become known publicly as being part of the business? The line between personal and business becomes blurred. If a staff member expresses an opinion or discusses personal values, beliefs or ideologies or even details about their routine or daily lives, does it reflect on the business? Can an employer insist that staff stop using social media or control/restrict what is said?

There are other questions in this area as well.

• Should an employer be searching a staff member’s account?

• Is it appropriate for an employer to “follow” or “friend” a staff member?

• Should you ignore/decline/block staff members (or your boss’s) friend request?

The question is where are the boundaries? Should it be left to chance or common sense or does it need to be controlled by policy or legislation?

Social media is here, to try to stop it is futile, to control it is problematic, so the other option is to become aware of how it works and educate yourself and others as to the appropriate use of this media.

Food for thought.

Paul S Allen

Other Articles

Social Media the Next Stage

Social Networking and Business

I Am Watching You

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About Paul Allen

Musician (Guitar, Bass, Mandolin); Singer Song Writer; Photographer; Poet; Thinker. I have food allergies so ask when you invite me for dinner. Lumen accipe et imperti. (receive the light and pass it on) Business Advisor; Leadership; Strategy; Vision; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) supporter.

Posted on 26/03/2011, in Business Development, Communication, Social Networking, Twitter and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nice post Paul.

    I think a key point here is to make sure as an organisation; you have your act together before launching a social media campaign. That means staff understand their rights and responsibilities, buy into the company’s social media philosophy, and do their best to portray the brand in a positive light. Of course there will always be the occasional “bad egg” that wishes to discuss how creepy their boss is via a Facebook status update.

    Companies that have worked hard to establish a transparent brand image through social media will have greater success dealing with these sporadic staff outbursts when they happen.

    Andy

    • Thanks Andy, I agree, clear policy guidelines mean that everyone is on the same level of understanding. it should also encourage the use of the new media styles not discourage its use.

      Paul

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