What’s your personal social media policy?

24 08 2011

Working through a social media policy for work is a good reminder of the issues social media can have for the individual.

We have all heard the horror stories – career-limiting photographs and postings that last forever. Employees facing disciplinary action, losing jobs or being screened out in interviews because of social media information. People being sued for defamation. Workplace bullying following employees home.

Here are some thoughts on defensive social media management.

1. Be clear about who each social media forum is for. For instance for me, Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for current and former work colleagues and Twitter is for anyone. I am very clear about this to avoid giving offense. I do not have work-related people on my Facebook site. It is too easy for an innocent comment to be misconstrued to relate to a specific work-related activity. On the other hand, I know people who do have work colleagues on their Facebook site. That’s fine too, but once you have made the decision you need to post appropriately. Remember who is there.

2. Make sure your privacy settings are high. This is basic common sense, but it never ceases to amaze the number of people who have low or no privacy settings. It’s a big world out there people, not everyone has good intentions!

3. Be aware that no matter what your privacy settings, information gets out. A friend does a screen grab of a funny picture or posting you have put up, shares a comment you have posted, you comment on a friend’s site only to find that some of their friends know you as well.

4. Be careful which Facebook groups you join – despite your privacy settings your comments on someone else’s, or a group’s, page might show up on a google search. Just “liking” a page sometimes shows up.

5. Alcohol and social media do not mix if you want a career!

6. Be careful about what you find humourous, including the postings you repost. Just because it wasn’t your writing or your opinion, having it against your name for reposting may look bad.

7. Google yourself from time to time and see what pops up. Mine generally covers work related activities (quotes in media, reports presented, documents authored and conference presentations, etc) and some recreational activities including notice boards I have left comments on. I did once find an obituary in my name – I have an unusual double barrelled surname so this was slightly alarming. Turns out to be an 82 year old woman who died in Texas. I believe in coincidence!

8. Do you have a common (ie: popular) name? Is there some way you can differentiate yourself from others with similar names – particularly if they are in unsavoury businesses or making ill-advised comments you do not want associated with yourself. You need to be either clearly identified as to which comments are you (if your strategy is to make your profile stand out online), or be anonymous in the crowd of people with the same name.

9. If you find defamatory comments about yourself, request that the user remove them. If that doesn’t work, request that the site owner removes them. And remember, libel is libel, even if it happens in cyber-space.

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5 responses

24 08 2011

How I use social media.

My use of social media is predominantly as a publicity tool. Yes, I have both personal and ‘professional Facebook pages, although there is a lot of cross over into the personal sections. I don’t have a lot of business category Facebook followers, so my personal friends tend to be inundated with work related postings.
I also have a purely work related Twitter feed, and a crossover feed, which also covers my interests.
There are Stumble, Digg, Reddit and other online profiles too.
In posting to these various profiles, I tend to a policy of ‘Open Book’. Being a business owner (of a very small business) I consider my life to be open to scrutiny by the world at large. I know that some of my interests will offend some, however I would rather such things were known about in an open forum, rather than to be ‘discovered’ by chance at a later time
I also write several blogs, some are pure work or crossovers, some are just personal commentary, and can be considered ‘controversial’, and recently one on my business website graphicline.co.za has just been created.

I think if we all follow a few basic rules; If one does not want something about oneself to be discovered online, DON’T make it available online. Of course a more important rule would be, ‘don’t do anything that you don’t want anyone else to know about!’

In closing, a good posting, and an interesting blog which I am following

25 08 2011

Hi Mike – yes the whole online profile scene is getting more and more complex. I concentrated on the most popular sites and the ones where people seem to get themselves into most trouble – but the linkages between all of these can be problematic as well! Because of my very different usages of Fb, LinkedIn and Twitter, I have to watch cross-postings, not to mention this blog as an intersection. (And no, I am not paranoid – not in a clinical sense anyway!!!)

I think overall the most important thing is that people are aware that this infromation is public and searchable, and think about what they are doing, where it is going and who is reading it – and sending it on.

Thanks for your comment – loved your blog.

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