Social media in management

Although facebook has existed since 2004 and Twitter since 2006 the social media remain a fairly new phenomenon. Both employers and employees need to get used to how to work with it and around it. With the continued development of new applications on phones, new sites and new sharing options, the issue gets more complicated. Were Facebook Twitter and LinkedIn the favorites from a year ago (and no one remembers myspace !), today the younger generation moves to other options like snapchat, ello, meerkat, instagram, periscope etc.

People like to share their thoughts and ideas with others. We have always done that and the issues at work, with the footballs scores and cars, were favorite topics at birthday parties for many years. This is still true but now the conversation continues after the birthday party, online in front of a potentially much larger audience.

Employers didn’t have to be too concerned about their employees venting their anger about something to the outside world because other than a letter to the editor of a respectable newspaper, the word really didn’t get out that much.

These days all you do and say will either be recorded or scripted or retold in front of a larger audience. Many people in the spotlight have lived through the issues this creates. From politicians who see their intimate conversations exposed, through celebrities who see their careers stalled by some disrespectful outings, to the police force who now gets intensely scrutinized to the extend that they are encouraged to wear cameras to record all they do.

So what is wisdom for you both as an employee and as a manager for your company?

In an earlier post we concluded it inadvisable to invite all your team members on your facebook as friends and the same probably goes for most of the other sharing options. As it is ok to share when you work together as peers in a department, it may become more inappropriate to share when you have moved up the ranks. A choir director who moved to a great job in a different town, decided it was time to move all his former students from his facebook, a teacher found out the hard way that having all his students on his facebook was not a good choice.

So my advice is still, be very selective with who you allow to share your social media. A good rule is that when you do not know the person well, or don’t even know where they live, you should probably just not have them on any of your lists. Sharing is good for good friends and family members.

Companies have a different challenge. They need to develop a company “persona” in cyberspace and carefully craft their communications to attract new business or keep people abreast of developments in the company. The other side of that coin is that they need to monitor social media and deal with the compliments, comments and criticism that will float over the internet.

If your company is large enough, it will get lots of comments on social media. You don’t have to react to everything but monitor for serious allegations and take action. If someone complaints about their flight being late, well you can express you feelings of being sorry but there won’t be much you can do. If however someone alleges that they have been harassed or assaulted by your staff you may want to take action.

  • Start an investigation
  • Get the person who complaints to repeat the complaint in writing to your customer service with more detail
  • Don’t go on wild goose chases when “trolls” pester your site and remain anonymous
  • Be supportive of your staff until it is absolutely clear that things indeed got out of hand

Sticky issues are if you find out that one of your team-members has a real wild life on social media. To the extend that it affects the work or that it could jeopardize the company’s mission or reputation, go ahead and start the conversation.

It is key to have a process so you don’t have to go into crisis scrambling mode when you stumble over a social media issue. This is a good time to prepare and bring it up in your next management meeting. Do you really have the policies in place that tells the employees what is and is not acceptable? Is it specific enough to be clear and broad enough to be able to expand to new social or online media in the future?

Mail me with your thoughts on this topic and we can do a larger piece on it in due time.