More than 75 percent of American workers use some form of social networking*, and that number is likely to increase. And it’s not just younger workers who are using social media tools; employees in all age brackets are online and interacting in significant numbers.
While social networking offers new and interesting ways for people to communicate and get work done, it can also create some risks for you personally and for your organization.
Following are some best practices to steer you – and those you may manage – in the right direction and help answer the question, “to post, or not to post?”
Comply with Policy
Whether you are using your own electronic devices or employer-provided devices, accessing and using social media should never interfere with work responsibilities, create productivity issues or otherwise violate policy. Inappropriate use of social media or electronic resources can lead to corrective action under most policies.
Think Twice, and Post Carefully
Posting a message to Facebook or Twitter feels different from making a statement to a room full of people. Typing a message on a computer or phone can create an illusion of distance, safety and possibly even a feeling of anonymity. Make no mistake, though — what you post or tweet is effectively being broadcast to a room full of people and what has been said cannot be unsaid.
Before creating online content, think twice, and post carefully.
Be Careful with Confidential and Non-public Information
A simple status update, a post about a workplace challenge or a communication with a client or prospect can result in an accidental disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, and can violate policy. It can also undermine client relations, our organization’s reputation and result in the loss of valuable legal protections relating to that information.
So, no matter the type of confidential or proprietary information you have access to – or whether it belongs to your employer, a client, or customer or business partner –you have an obligation to protect it. If you do post about your work or organization, be accurate, transparent and respectful and don’t post anything that is confidential, proprietary or that would otherwise violate the law (such as sharing insider information).
Use Common Sense
Ultimately, you are solely responsible for what you post online. And, although you may think that social media is private, any information you share online can be quickly shared with an incredible number of people. Comments you make online are out there forever.
Following these practical tips will help protect you and your employer.
Always use common sense and think carefully about what you post
Be professional and polite
Show respect for the people you work with and the company
Be honest, transparent and truthful
Don’t disclose confidential information
Avoid negative comments and engaging in arguments
Don’t post comments that could be viewed as harassing, threatening or defamatory
Protect your organization’s brand, and your own reputation
*National Business Ethics Survey of Social Networkers, July 2013