Tuesday, December 8

Using Social Media at Work

With so many people spending so much time expressing themselves online, it's opened up a huge debate about the use of social media at work. Do an online search and you'll see tons of articles on all sides of the subject.

First there's the time issue. Is it ok for employees to spend time at work posting status updates on Facebook and checking Twitter, for example? Fine line here. Sure, we all need to be "up" on what's going on in the digital space if we are going to keep current with technology and pop culture. And we also need to stay relevant in our jobs, which means knowing and understanding all forms of communication. But when is too much time just too much?

To me, like anything else, this is an HR issue that is no different than lunch breaks, personal phone calls, or reading the newspaper. If using social media at work gets in the way of productivity, then it's an HR issue and needs to be dealt with individually. There are many ways to handle time management problems, and most HR professionals have a tool box full of techniques.

The other side of the "social media at work" issue has far greater impact ... how people represent themselves on social media can reflect back on where they work. To me, that's the bigger debate.

Of course as individuals, we should all be careful about how we represent ourselves on social media. Our posts and pictures say volumes about who we are as people and how we live our lives. Whether those posts are created during work hours or not. But all of that is personal choice. When those posts reflect back on the company, it becomes much more than just personal choice. It can affect business and can impact perceptions of a brand.

The solution? Talk about it! Have training sessions on the proper use of social media as it pertains to the work place, for example. And importantly, have a social media policy in place.

A social media policy lets employees know the rules of engagement around social media as it relates to their professional lives. As an agency that actually does a lot of social media work, we just put one in place ourselves, and we are helping a few of our clients craft one of their own. Communication is always good, and having rules in place keeps people operating cleanly and openly.

What's your experience? Jim.

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