Did he REALLY tweet that about the client’s product? Did you see Sara’s bachelorette party pictures on Facebook? So Mike is looking for a new job while we’re thinking about promoting him?
Just as all other aspects of your life, there are do’s and don’ts to the era’s biggest fad. Social media is here to stay, but if you do not think wisely about updating or tweeting, you may not have the money to pay for the Internet connection your job afforded you.
You’ve heard the monotonous speil several times in the past. “You are now an employee of Company X and therefore represent Company X during work and after hours. We expect you to conduct yourselves in a respectable manner as your actions directly reflect back on the company and the talent we hire.”
In the past, the way you behaved outside of work was still susceptible to scrutiny from your company, as your actions had a chance of affecting the company’s reputation. If you happened to get into a drunken bar fight one night and landed in jail and the papers, there was a chance your job status could be affected.
Well, things are only more stringent with the introduction of all things online and social. Today, in addition to conducting themselves accordingly outside of work, employees have to be careful of what they post online and what is written about them. A negative article about you in your campus newspaper will be seen by recruiters and racial slurs projected on Twitter will get back to the company you work for (and most likely can get you fired).
Whether you like it or not, how you behave online can have an impact on your work life. Your company may pay social media sites for access to all profiles or a co-worker may stumble upon something inappropriate and inform management. Even worse, media may get a hold of your antics and publish your name along with your company’s in a negative manner. Think that will fly with your boss? NO way.
So what exactly constitutes social media etiquette? How are you supposed to behave so you do not tick off management?
Here are a few good rules of thumb:
Refrain from adding colleagues or supervisors as friends on personal networks. Many people want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. Consider connecting on LinkedIn or Twitter as opposed to Facebook.
Be respectful. End of discussion. It does not matter if you are upset you lost $5000 on the Bears playoff game or just totalled your BMW. While you are allowed to have an opinion and personality, swearing or derogatory comments can get you in trouble and become a PR nightmare for your company.
Know your company’s social media guidelines. When it doubt, look at any formal guidelines your organization has drafted to know what to do and what not to do.
Be thoughtful about how you present yourself. If you identify yourself as an employee of your company, make sure you represent yourself accordingly and that the content you share is consistent with your work.
Use a disclaimer. When blogging or sharing opinions or thoughts via social media, make it clear that the views you share are yours alone and not the company’s.
Don’t forget about your work priorities. Online activities should not take precedence over your job or commitments you have to clients or customers.
Don’t engage in arguments with media or customers. If you see something you disagree with, address it appropriately via your own blog or social media acccounts–but don’t pick fights. Back up your views with facts.
Add value. IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines state it best: “If it helps you, your coworkers, our clients or our partners to do their jobs and solve problems; if it helps to improve knowledge or skills; if it contributes directly or indirectly to the improvement of IBM’s products, processes and policies; if it builds a sense of community; or if it helps to promote IBM’s Values, then it is adding value.”
Don’t overshare about your company. Here are some topics to avoid discussing online: revenue, pricing, industry rumors, executive leadership, potential acquisitions or investments, future product release dates, etc. You get the picture!
Be honest. Transparency is key online. Don’t post anonymously or fail to mention your affiliation with the organization.
Do not badmouth them or your company after a tough day. A comment like “Person X is such a pain to work with, I cannot wait to ditch this job and move on to bigger and better things in life,” as a Facebook status will catch up to you quicker than you think…and may get you out of the job sooner than you had actually hoped for.
Be mindful of what pictures of you show up on the web. While you may not be uploading anything harmful, your friends may not know better. So, if you do not want the chance of your boss seeing you do a beer bong at your alma mater, don’t let your friends take pictures of it.
Other tips for posting online from Salesforce.com: know your audience, be interesting, conversations are a two-way street, remember that quality matters, think before you post and adjust your privacy settings.
How has social media played a role in your career? What other do’s and don’ts would you add?