Social networking websites have become a popular way to interact with people on the Internet. Thirty-five percent of adults on the Internet now have a profile on at least one social networking site, and 51 percent have more than one. Three-quarters of users between the ages of 18 and 24 have an online profile.
Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster, Urban Chat and Black Planet are just a few of more than 100 Web sites connecting folks around the world who are eager to share their thoughts and feelings.
The use of social media at work presents new opportunities to employers, but also new responsibilities. One is how to manage the amount of time employees spend using the sites and how it is affecting workplace productivity.
Here are some recommendations relating to what employees should not be doing/sharing on social media sites:
- Don’t share too much information – It’s very easy to get caught up in the social aspects of sites like Facebook, but what you choose to share is there for all to see if you don’t limit who can view your information. Sharing personal information with strangers can be dangerous business, and there are some things you should definitely put on your “do not share” list. With Twitter, you can tweet a half dozen times per day and be fine. With Facebook Business Page, once a day should be enough and the same goes for LinkedIn too.
- Don’t say you hate your job – You may not like your job or your boss but complaining about it on social media is not going to go down well when your boss finds out.
- Posting information when your profiles are linked to more than one site – You may post something innocuous on one site, but then it’s linked to your LinkedIn work profile and you’ve put your job at risk because of that posting.
- Failing to keep secrets – News about your workplace, for example, a planned expansion or project should be kept private and under wraps. For instance, broadcasting your visit to a competitor’s client might hurt your company’s chances of securing new business.
- Avoid being negative – Negative comments on social media about fellow employees, your employer or customers lowers the reputation of the company and its customers. You should showcase the success of your colleagues, your company and not just your own achievements and accomplishments.
- Don’t get into an argument – A difference of opinion is OK; a full-blown argument is definitely taboo. If you want to descend into mud-slinging, just remember, on the Internet, you can’t take it back – it’s permanent and will remain there… forever!
- Don’t boast – It’s OK to let people know you just got promoted or you just got a brand new car but be subtle – and grateful. Humility goes a long way on social networks.
- Don’t get personal – Just because you have some dirt on the office manager or another colleague, it doesn’t mean you have the green light to share unflattering gossip online. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the perfect maxim for social networking.
- Don’t share the fact that you are planning to take a sick day on social media! And don’t share photos of an event that reveals that you were not sick that day. (Note: What the $##@$#$ are you doing taking a (fake) sick day in the first place? If you want a day off, ask for it and schedule it with your boss. Have some self-respect!)
- Don’t use social media for posting defamatory or discriminatory messages – Be aware that social media can be used for cyber bullying and harassment purposes, so avoid posting offensive or threatening comments.
- Do not breach confidentiality – Unauthorised disclosure of company information via social media sites could include details relating to profit/loss, potential redundancies, employee personal information, client details, internal complaints or trade secrets.
- Do not repost articles – be careful about sharing posts you have not actually read because headlines rarely reveal the entire story. Read the article before you attach your reputation to it.
- Don’t compromise your organisation’s security – visiting social networking sites at work may expose company networks to malware and can help hackers steal identities and data. Hackers are attracted to networking sites because of the potential they see to commit fraud and launch spam malware attacks.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a professional networking site and you should not be doing the following there:
- Rapid posting – spamming the newsfeed. This is not the place to broadcast links to articles.
- Post/participate in spam comments. This is frowned upon by all.
- Participate in flame wars. The opinions on LinkedIn may not be the same as yours so while it may be difficult to hold back and express your opinion, do so in a professional manner.
- Auto-post from another social channel to LinkedIn. You cannot sync LinkedIn with Twitter; it causes spam and clutter.
- Auto-post from website feed. You should not auto share every post on social media. Everything you do on LinkedIn will always be taken in a professional way, unlike Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn is not a publishing tool for broadcasting messages; it’s a networking tool for showcasing yourself as a professional and make people want to work with you, value your opinions and thoughts.
Twitter is another social networking phenomenon you should be careful with.
- You are what you share/tweet – Just use good common sense when sharing on social networks. The Internet is now the track record of your life. Don’t share something that you don’t want to be left as a representation of you. But don’t let this stop you from making yourself known on issues and things that matter. Having no voice pertaining to certain things that your business stands behind could be worse than a few people disagreeing with your own beliefs. Be proud of who you are and represent as a business, but make sure that you know what image you’re crafting as a result.
- Don’t be needy – No one likes needy people on social media. So don’t ask your Twitter followers to “retweet this tweet please.” And don’t beg your Facebook friends to come “Like” your page. Get creative with the way you do things. You can still accomplish those tasks, but learn how to disguise them.
- If you misuse Twitter, let’s face it, everyone will see you for what you are – a TWIT!