Our relationship with social media can be love/hate. Professionally, social media invites risks for posting content or an opinion that can damage an employee’s character at work, possible causing termination. A joke made in poor taste or a strong viewpoint over a sensitive topic can even end a professional’s career. On the employer’s end, an employee’s poor decision can cost your company’s reputation and more.
Be proactive about enforcing employee guidelines on social media to prevent damage control. The following can help you craft a company social media policy that you can distribute to your employees:
Hold Yourself Accountable & Responsible
Your social profiles are your digital domain for a wide range of personal purposes, from connection and self-expression to entertainment and inspiration. Although there are rewards, there are professional risks. Not only can your social media habits affect your job performance, but your actions and conduct can affect relationships with your colleagues, and represent a poor image of your company and its business interests. We can become engaged and engrossed in social media so much, that it’s easy to get caught up and forget that your actions can have consequences. It starts with a common-sense approach of being respectful, honest, accurate and appropriate.
Be Aware of Oversharing
It’s great to promote your company—products, services, initiatives and successes—but sometimes oversharing can have negative effects. Mandy Edwards, founder of ME Marketing Services and B2C contributor, emphasizes that “people unfollow businesses for posting too much.” The same applies to employees, whether you’re posting info about your personal life or company. Post highlights, not details, Edwards recommends, to establish balance. If your connections have too much exposure to content about your company, they may develop a subconscious negative perception about it.
Post with Professionalism
Remember, you’re still a reflection of your company outside office walls. Not only should you avoid associating your name with discriminatory or extremely controversial content, but you should maintain a sense of professionalism while presenting your neutral views or opinions too. The American Medical Resource Institute offers nurses (who need to respect patient privacy) tips for maintaining professionalism on social platforms; these tips can be taken as universal advice for all professionals:
- Avoid negative comments about colleagues or the facility (business). Take issues offline and maintain confidentiality. Posting concerns and complaints to your digital audience doesn’t solve the problem, it worsens it.
- Think of posts and photos as permanent, even when deleted.
- Watch posting to forums and groups. Comments on threads can still make an impact. Avoid getting too involved in arguments and debates that can trigger you to quickly make a remark that you regret.
After building your social media networks for years, you’ve probably forgotten about past co-workers who you’re still connected to. Tighten up your network by de-connecting with old colleagues. Making it a personal rule to keep co-workers separate from your social media and setting privacy settings helps establish boundaries between work and your personal life. Keep in mind, these aren’t green lights for abandoning discretion 100 percent.
It’s also beneficial to take a break from social media. A detox can help reset your social media habits. Take this time away to re-evaluate your digital social behavior.
Implement a “Custom Strategy”
The Harvard Business Review, on “How to Separate the Personal and Professional on Social Media,” recommends a custom strategy: users manage both their audience and their content. Tailor your social activity to different audiences. For example, maybe maintain a small Facebook network where you open up more, whereas on Instagram you just share fun photos that would be appropriate for work-related followers.
LinkedIn, of course, is a professional’s social media playground for posting business-focused content, especially for intrapreneurs and business owners wanting to solidify their company’s brand. Amway’s LinkedIn company profile is a good example of a one your company should emulate. Their page’s “Life” section features a well-produced video encapsulating their company’s culture.
Rule of Thumb: Encourage your employees to use good judgement. “Think before you click! Leave it to the company’s social media and marketing department for major communications. Review professional social media etiquette questions to ask yourself to protect your image, job, career and company.”