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Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, the list goes on. Social media is a part of everyday life for many. A tool to share our thoughts, photos and whereabouts with family, friends and associates, these sites can keep us connected with people all over the world, with contact being made in a matter of seconds. Social media can also be an excellent business tool, allowing businesses to promote and advertise to large audiences for free.

Technology such as smart phones and tablets allows social media to be used constantly, whether at home, at work or on the go. Because everyone seems to be obsessed about staying on constant touch with the world, social media often plays a large part in an employee’s private life and this can impact on working life; this is where the lines begin to blur about what is acceptable for an employee to post online. We all have a bad hair day where saying something ratty about someone at work seems like a good idea. Saying it to your mates in the pub is one thing. Saying in on the web is quite another.

Employers routinely have to sort out problems connected with online public slanging matches (or worse) between colleagues. You should have a policy in place outlining what is acceptable when it comes to using social media at work and what social media activity outside work is deemed as unacceptable. It should also state what sanctions an employee could face if the policy is breached.

We tweet about four times a day, sometimes more. Although some of our tweets are scheduled in advance, we make sure we are also visibly active online. The team has access to all the social media sites, allowing us all to contribute and keep it up to date. Being allowed the use of the company social media sites does not mean that employees have free will to access their own social media pages during working hours or can say whatever they like when they like. This should be made clear in your social media policy.

Social media is now an important business tool. It’s rare to come across a business that does not use it and there is good reason for that. These sites allow us to tell our audience what is happening in the office, what we have planned, give snippets of advice, share important updates, and share photos and videos; all for free. With 757 million users daily on Facebook, that’s a large audience to be talking to and sharing information with. With so many users there is fierce competition across all these sites, meaning it is sometimes difficult to stand out from the crowd.

They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I beg to differ. Here have been occasions when businesses on social media are spoken about by the press for the wrong reasons. For example, earlier this year the curator of the Sherlock Holmes Museum caused outrage when she called a job applicant lazy and selfish. When the job applicant tweeted the response it went viral.

While social media is an excellent communication tool, it only takes for one wrong comment to have adverse effects on a good business reputation. Make sure your employees know what is acceptable to put on social media and don’t post anything in the heat of the moment that you may regret at a later date.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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