With the rise of smartphones and the increase of available social networks, social media policies are becoming more difficult to regulate.
However, recent research has shown that only 5% of employees consider social media their biggest distraction; suggesting it may not be the problem that many employers consider it. In fact, when used correctly, employees using social media can be a very effective promotional and communication tool.
Here's a set of Golden Rules for employees to use social media in a professional manner:
If you have other work to be doing, don't go on social media. Although using social media at work in some circumstances is acceptable, it's easy to while away hours looking through photos on Facebook or your Twitter news feed. If social media isn't your priority, do whatever else is instead! Apply the same rules you would if you wanted to make a personal phone call or send a personal email.
If you are going to post on social networks during your working day, keep it work related. This doesn't necessarily have to be posting about your job or company - sharing and discussing news articles that are related to your profession shows that you're genuinely interested in your work, for example. If you want to post something personal, post it in your personal time.
Build connections within your business community. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to join the online community of your profession. Try and build a following that's a combination of your persona and the company's. If you can do that successfully, you will have an obligation to interact with your friends and followers, because it enhances the company's profile.
Remember that you're an ambassador for your company. It is not professional to post derogatory comments or confidential information about your workmates or company. Once you've posted them, they are on the web forever. Remember that people actually see your posts and even if your workmate doesn't see it, it's likely that someone else will. Think about what you're posting before you post it - it's a cliché, but if you wouldn't want your parents to see it, then don't post it!
If your company says don't use it, then don't use it. Although many companies are becoming more flexible in terms of social media use, for some it's a black and white issue. If you work for one of these companies, it's probably best to listen to them - there's no point risking your job over a tweet!
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