Over the last year I have spoken and worked for a number of business about using social media. Covering small practice, family based businesses, not for profits and large industry.
Most organisations want to be within the social media sphere, they are watching, but they have concerns.
It may surprise you that it is usually not the actual customer that is their biggest worry. A good business has lots of strategies in place to deal with customers that are unhappy or products that don’t work, services that need fixing. Talking with their customers is usually not a major problem. They want to do that.
So, what ‘s the worry?
What if staff say the wrong thing in public and are linked to them? How do they control this, how much do they need to be aware of, what are their responsibilities as an organisation and what are those of the staff? Are staff sharing intellectual policies or knowledge on a blog? What are the laws surrounding this new area? What if a staff member accidentally writes something they shouldn’t? What if staff are being bullied?
There is no one answer as this area changes so much. Many organisations have banned staff from using Facebook and Twitter, just like they used to ban email. Yes, it’s true. At one of my first jobs at a major Australian finance institution in the mid ’90s, we were only allowed to email internally, imagine the cost to the business if we were all off emailing friends and mucking around on company time! Banning provides them some control, I am not convinced it works.
Especially if they want to use social media at work, staff will just use their phones and as some Gen Y employees mentioned at a seminar I was at, it would actually be much faster to use the desktop and thus make them more efficient at work rather than sneaking out for a “smoke” or hanging out in the toilets for an extra 10 minutes while they check Twitter.
Businesses are concerned about defamation, bullying, privacy breaches, and how they manage these things. Big corporations have got in early and now have policies and procedures, many of these are online, so if you are a business, no matter what size, go and take a look and get some ideas of how you can manage this.
This Telstra one is full of information and designed to share with their staff, but just go Googling if you are a business and want some information to share with staff. Or, if you have an association or union that represents you, they may also have some tip sheets, policies or guidelines.
If you are a worker, you should also be aware that social media areas, especially Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, are not the place to publicly share things about your work, especially things about people you work with. Public is public, no matter how locked up you have your privacy settings.
Here is one recent example of a man who lost his job thanks to a comment he made on Facebook: One silly comment, and your job is gone.
Claire Hewitt is a marketing consultant who specialises in social media for professional service organisations. After 15 years working within marketing communications for the legal, finance and health sectors, Claire has landed in a world of twitter, blogging, facebook and LinkedIn and enjoys assisting businesses to learn how they too can grow their business by engaging, informing and participating within Social Media. Claire writes her own personal blog at Claireyhewitt.blogspot.com and can be found on twitter @ClaireyHewitt
Editor’s note: I, of course, have long embraced social media for work as wholeheartedly as wine time on a Friday. My husband, who ironically is in the business of communications, has just joined up Twitter. Recently he returned from a big social media conference. I asked him what he learned and he sent me this link. Oh, and he gave me a USB he picked up at one of the exhibition booths. Lucky?
Do you work for an organisation that bans the use of social media? If you have access to social media, is there a policy around that? Have you heard of someone losing their job after an incidence of TUI (Tweeting Under the Influence)?