Before social media became a powerful marketing, branding and recruiting tool, its primary purpose for most people was, well, social. As time went on, however, and corporations gained awareness of the business advantages of social media, things got fuzzier. Nowadays, being on social media may be an important part of your job. At the same time, workplace social media use has been linked to decreased productivity and other negative consequences. Used wisely and responsibly, social media can enhance your professional image, create valuable connections and benefit your employer. The following tips will ensure social media success.
1. Read your company policy
If you’re beginning a new job at a new company, you’ve probably received a copy of the company’s social media policy. Don’t just stash it in a drawer. Read and familiarize yourself with the policy, and respect the rules as they are written.
“More than 70 percent of businesses have had to take disciplinary action against employees for misusing social media,” says Workplace Answers. Don’t be part of that statistic.
2. Pay attention to company culture
When it comes to social media use, Malcolm Rowlings of EnVeritasGroup advises employees to “conform to the culture” of their workplaces. Watch how coworkers conduct themselves with regard to social media, Rowlings suggests, and unless you’re the social media manager, don’t be the one person whose Facebook page is always open on his desktop. That’s a sure way to earn a bad reputation with colleagues and managers.
3. Create separate social media accounts for professional and personal lives.
As we’ve all learned by now, anything that is posted on the internet, stays on the internet. One way to minimize the damage or at least prevent future blunders is to create separate accounts for personal and professional use. Drawing a line between professional and personal online identities will go beyond protecting you from professional harm, say the experts at ReputationDefender.
“By separating your profiles, you can ensure that your professional voice and message is getting through to those who are interested in what you have to say, not to all your friends who are more interested in seeing the pictures from your birthday party.”
Once separate accounts are created, be careful to maintain strict boundaries. Avoid connecting with employers and colleagues on your personal accounts, and make sure to post only professionally relevant content on your work accounts. Keep yourself, your colleagues and your employer safe, by carefully managing your privacy settings.
4. Think before you post
Just as it’s wise to think before speaking, it’s prudent to be thoughtful about what you post online. If you have any doubts whatsoever about whether an opinion, photo or link is professionally appropriate, don’t post it, says Melanie Pinola of Lifewire. In particular, never share company news online without first clearing it with your employer. Being the first to announce a potential merger or reorganization can easily get you fired, if the announcement hasn’t yet been approved.
“The safest thing is to just assume that anything you write or forward or add a comment to online will be seen by someone ... who may pass it along to someone else [willingly or unwittingly] ... whom you may not necessarily want to be sharing that information with. In other words, don't post anything on the web that you wouldn't say in front of your boss or your mom.”
5. Don’t take advantage of your employer
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that trusts its employees not to abuse social media while at work, show your employer you deserve that trust by keeping your social media use to a minimum. If social media is part of your job, stick to professional accounts instead of moving back and forth between personal and work sites.
“At the end of the day, think of it this way: you’re being paid to do your job — and unless your job is in social media — you shouldn’t be using your company’s time, resources, and money to be on social media while you’re getting paid,” says Rep’nUp, a company that helps jobseekers “leverage social media to improve their online reputation and find the right job.”
6. Use social media to enhance your career
Though social media presents challenges in the workplace, it is also a wonderful way to market your company, as well as your professional brand. Make use of sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to build contacts, share insights and even attract recruiters. Learn all you can about how social media can benefit your business and you’ll endear yourself to your boss and her boss.What are your favorite workplace social media tips? Share them on Facebook and Twitter. Job-hunting? Visit our job board.