Blogs, Tweets, and your employees

From the Business Development Canada Bank’s eProfits magazine;

The use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs in the workplace is on the rise. These tools can help employees increase their visibility in the community, reach more customers and improve their knowledge. At the same time, many employees are avid users of social media in their personal lives and are apt to log on during work hours to post.

So it’s no surprise that the distinction between professional and personal use can be blurry. Here are some best practices to ensure that employees use these sites appropriately and limit their personal use during working hours.

  • Write a clear policy for employees after getting their input. Keep a positive tone and avoid focusing on disciplinary action for misconduct. Your ultimate goal is to build a sense of trust with your team.
  • Suggest your employees keep separate personal and professional accounts on sites such as Facebook. Your employees should assume that clients or future employers could read information on their personal accounts.
  • Personal use of social media tools on company time shouldn’t be prohibited, but employees should be encouraged to limit it in the same way they restrict their personal telephone calls or Internet use. Company time is for company business.
  • Encourage your team members to think before they post. They should be especially cautious about revealing confidential or proprietary information about your organization or engaging in discussions that could tarnish their image or that of your company.
  • If your employees are sharing links with business colleagues, they should be sure that the sites are reputable and reflect well on your company. The same advice applies to employees joining online groups.
  • Revealing personal information online, through means such as blogging, makes your company more susceptible to spam, pranks and identity thieves. Remind your employees that sites such as Facebook and Twitter have privacy settings that limit who can read postings and access personal information. However, this information does remain in the public domain.
  • Ask your employees to get permission from your clients or partners before publishing their names on sites. As well, they should respect copyrights and give credit to any organization whose material they use.
  • If your employees are blogging about your organization, it’s important that they disclose their identity, are transparent about their role in your company and stick to their area of expertise. After all, they are representing your business.
  • Journalists are increasingly using online sources to find information. If your employees are approached by the media while online, be sure they notify the appropriate person in your company before answering media inquiries.
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