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Jonathan Greenhalgh Blue Collar, White Collar...

Blurred Lines: Social Media Use For Professionals

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Social media. Love it or hate it, it's there. You probably use it, your friends, partners, kids, and bosses probably do too. With this explosion in its popularity and everybody spending more and more time online, the lines between our personal and professional lives are becoming ever increasingly blurred.

As an employee, it is always wise to consider how your social media activity could impact your employer or potential employers. It's not something that everybody would always consider as necessary, but we can't stress how important it is.

Whenever you start in a new role or join a new company, whether it be as a permanent member of staff contractor or volunteer, you should always be aware of, and read the companies social media policy.

Your social media activity, live your real-life activity should never hurt or reflect poorly on the company. As an employee, whether you like it or not, you are an advocate for that business. Your actions online could even lead to disciplinary procedures or in some cases, termination. Which is something we do not think that any sane person would want.

So the following are some guidelines that you should think about when using social media to avoid getting in any sticky and unnecessary situations.

Before you post you should consider;

Does my post meet the companies social media policy?

You probably received this when you were hired. Please don't assume that you know what it is going to say, read it. There are several cases all around the world where companies have fired employees for not following their social policy. Know this policy inside and out.

Am I ranting?

Having a moan, rant or gossip in a public online forum may seem harmless to you. Still, the research has shown that no matter how justified you feel, ranting and venting rarely shows you in a good light as an advocate for your organisation may show them badly too.

Am I sharing something that I shouldn't be?

You could be granted access to privileged information in your role, don't assume that it is ok to share this. Make sure that anything you share is not non-public information or breaking any privacy laws.

Does this post help my company meet its overall marketing objective?

If you are posting about your company, make sure that the post shows the business in a good light and is on-brand. Employee advocacy is a massive part of many organisations social plans, especially on platforms such as LinkedIn.

Does my post put my companies reputation in jeopardy?

Statements such as "My views are my own" make no difference. If you have the name of your business in your bio or your profile at all, certain content will reflect poorly on your employer and harm their business.

Would my Boss approve of this message?

Remember! The most private, locked down, accounts are not private. Even if you aren't connected with your Boss online, you may be connected to some of your co-workers. This means that your content is only going to be one share or screen grab away from them.

Am I stealing my content?

Not everything that you see on Google is free. You can't just do a google image search, save a picture and use it to promote something. Always ask permission to use any graphics, videos and music etc. from the content owner. You don't want to get sued.

Is this post fair?

"Opinions are like..." Well, you know the saying. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if yours is overtly unfounded or has to much of an agenda, it could reflect poorly on you. Constructive criticism should be well received when backed up by facts and evidence.

Is my content respectful and not malicious?

Social media can be a rocky place, and people can become very sensitive judgemental or even angry exceptionally quickly. Don't post what you wouldn't say in person. And remember that an outburst in real life can be fleeting and often forgotten; a social media post can live forever (remember that screenshot function).

In a world where 80% of employers are now checking the social media of potential recruits, you're going to want to be squeaky clean, always. Be sure never to post anything that you may come to regret later. We're not talking about selfies on a night out and pictures of your children or cat but things that may be considered hateful, offensive or abusive.

If you are looking for a new role and don't know where to start, we have tons of great content on our site that can help you on your journey.

Click here to see our job hunting tips.