Now picture the last face-to-face meeting you had with your boss or a professor.
Did any of these topics come up in conversation? Probably not.
Social media allows friends, colleagues, clients, superiors, and millions of other interesting people to read and participate in the same dialogue. This hyper-connectedness presents a potential problem for social media users and employers who are both active in the digital space.
Authenticity is critical to success in social media. But there is a distinction between accurately representing your personal and professional self. Chats among friends, photos from parties and opinions about current news, politics, or other issues that appear on accounts used for both business and personal networking can make it difficult to distinguish professional commentary from personal conversation. This ambiguity can cost both employers and employees. Companies may suffer reputation damage, and employees may lose their accounts or even their jobs.
How can workers and companies coexist on social media? Consider making protected accounts for personal connections and public accounts for business-related news. If your company has a social media policy in place, follow it. Plain and simple.
The bottom line, think about this before you post something: if you were out to lunch with your employer and a client, would your post be an appropriate conversation starter? Unless your response is an emphatic “Yes!” think about keeping your views private. It could save your job.
The author of this article is Steve Murray (@PRbySteve), who is a 2010 Strategic Communications graduate of Elon University. His PR experience has included working for an agency and as a social media intern for a national nonprofit organization. Feeel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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