We’ve all heard the horror stories—about the teacher fired for badmouthing a principal on Facebook, or about the employee terminated for denigrating the company’s brand on Twitter. There is so much that can go awry with social media and the workplace, so it’s best to know your company’s policies thoroughly before using any sites, whether at home or at work. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind to safely use social media while employed.
- 1. Read your employee handbook thoroughly, especially sections on Internet use.
This cannot be stressed enough. As social media becomes more and more integrated into every aspect of our lives, more and more places of employment will have specific employee policies regarding Internet, and specifically, social media use. This is obvious considering Smart Business and Forbes both ran articles relatively recently suggesting all companies implement a social media policy.
- 2. Keep personal social media sites completely personal.
It may be hard not to think of work as at least somewhat personal. After all, when you come home to your loved ones, you do talk extensively about work, simply because you spend so much time working in the same place with the same people. At the same time, however, it is important to draw lines to protect yourself, because social media is much more public than, say, a dinner table conversation with your spouse. Don’t discuss work-issues at all, whether it’s co-workers, projects, or anything else.
- 3. Think twice before “adding” or “following” co-workers.
Although this is highly dependent on which kind of company you work for, you should be careful becoming too connected on social networking sites with co-workers. In some businesses, how you present yourself even in your personal life, is very important. If people with whom you work feel as though you said something inappropriate, even if it’s in your personal life, they may feel in some cases, obligated to let others at work know.
- 4. When using inter-office social media tools, use discretion.
Social media is becoming ever more popular within the workplace, for work purposes. For example, one popular social media tool that is designed specifically for office use is the tool Yammer, which is very similar to Twitter. Even though others may be very relaxed and informal using this and similar tools, still be sure to be tactful. Don’t post jokes or politically-motivated material that may inadvertently offend someone.
In the final analysis, social media and the workplace will be an increasingly growing phenomenon that will keep sociologists and business professionals busy scratching their heads for years to come. To ensure that this phenomenon grows the right way, use common sense and business protocol to guide your decisions.
This is a guest post from Carol Wilson who writes for business insurance reviews. She contributes articles about a variety of marketing, business, stock market, small business topics. She can be contacted at: wilson.carol24 @ gmail.com.