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Social media: professional vs. personal
Stories abound about people losing their jobs because of stupid comments they made on their social media profiles. Opinions vary on whether or not a company can hold someone responsible for something they say on their personal social media accounts, but regardless what your opinion is, there are things everyone should think about before posting anything online.
Obviously, privacy is always a concern any time you’re talking about cyberspace. Turning off your location services, refraining from sharing your travel itinerary on your Facebook page, resisting the urge to post every detail of your child’s life – all pretty common-sense ways to maintain your privacy and safety. And yet, social media has become such a part of our lives that many people don’t think before they post.
It’s bad enough when you’re sharing too much of your personal life on your personal page. Think about what could happen if you’re sharing too much on your company’s page. For example, a bank (or even a bank employee) that talks about special finance rates being offered is legally required to include certain language when discussing these things. So, while a new hire at the local bank may be trying to “do the right thing” by promoting great mortgage rates to her Facebook friends or Twitter followers, she could get herself (and her employer) in plenty of hot water by not sharing the information correctly.
And remember that almost everyone follows the pages and accounts of their primary competitors. If there is something you’d like your competitors not to know, it’s probably a good idea not to share it with the world via social media.
Make sure you know the tone of your company
If you are in charge of your company’s social media accounts, you should be well aware of the tone your company is trying to convey. On the company profiles, you should be certain you adhere to their policies and procedures.
But what about your personal account? This is trickier, because we should all be entitled to a personal life, where we are able to share our own thoughts and opinions. If you’re not a principal or a well-known employee, your social media presence shouldn’t cause much concern for your employer. However, if you are a high-profile employee, as in the case of Justine Sacco, you may need to be more careful. You can make your pages “private,” avoid social media altogether, or take the risk that you may say or do something that could cause a backlash – and may have consequences to your career.
Use common sense on social media
This should be a no-brainer, but sadly… Too many people use their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. without thinking. Should your company be able to fire or reprimand you for saying something they don’t agree with? No. But if you’re posting on Facebook while you’re supposed to be working, or you’re actively and consistently complaining about your job/boss/co-workers on your social media accounts, or even discussing the interviews you went on last week, you’re taking a risk. You may think your account is private, but you never know who may share the information with your employer.
If you’re responsible for posting for your company, it’s particularly important to use caution. The online world can be harsh, and once something is out there, it’s pretty much out there for good. If you say something stupid to your 300 Facebook friends or your 800 Twitter followers, it’s unlikely to have major consequences. If you post something inappropriate on your business page, with its thousands (or tens of thousands, or millions) of followers, it can be much more damaging.
Never underestimate the power of social media
Facebook can be fun. Catching up with friends or family and sharing funny stories, or even silly memes, is enjoyable. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. all serve a purpose: they connect us to the people, places, businesses, etc. that we want to connect to.
What was once personal conversations or discussions with small groups has become a shout-out to the world at large – complete with photos. Remember, once you share something in cyberspace it’s there forever – and its reach may be far larger than you can imagine.
Sep 03, 2015
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