It is amazing how many folks are facing the possibility that they could be fired for something they Tweeted or posted in Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media outlets. A quick search shows the growing number of cases and challenges to firings based on a person’s use of social media. Many individuals think that what they Tweet or post is private and some may not be thinking at all when they post, like posting a negative comment about the boss when they are Facebook friends with the boss. Did you think this person would not see it? Or perhaps that was the idea, a way for you to vent but not in person.
There is a lot of discussion about proper or appropriate use of social media in relation to business and then there is that imaginary line we draw between business and personal. Are you using Facebook for business reasons and if so, as a representative of your company, are you not responsible to maintain a professional appearance and presence the same as you would be expected to do at a corporate event with customers and prospects? Perhaps you choose to use Facebook for personal interactions and LinkedIn for professional contact. Does it matter? AFLAC recently did a search to find the new voice for the AFLAC duck as they fired Gilbert Gottfried over comments he tweeted that were considered inappropriate in accordance with the terms of his contract.
In my view, each social media outlet has its place and provides great benefit in maintaining contact with family, friends, business associates and making new acquaintances. As I have said in the past, it is not the technology that is at fault but the way it is used that makes the difference. If you want to vent and say what is on your mind, go ahead and do so but think about how you say it. If you are frustrated at work, say so but know don’t call the boss a #$$@$%% idiot in a social media setting. Think before you post or Tweet about something that is considered intellectual property as we saw with Glee extra Nicole Crowther. The burden here does not lie solely with the individual however. Companies too must make it clear to employees what is considered appropriate and acceptable with relation to social media use in the same way they must establish policies and guidelines of employee behavior when representing the company and with regard to protecting company secrets. If as an organization, you are ready to move forward with social media use but are not sure where to begin or what to do next, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started.
What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.
Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM
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