Workplace Social Media CYA

This is a 4 part series on Managing Your Social Media Mullet.  You can view Part 1 where I discussed the concept of social media mullet and “Business in the front.  Party in the back.”  In Part 2, the discussion continues specifically discussing how social media can help or hinder your personal as well as corporate brand.  

I come from a corporate human resources background.  Many corporate professionals (non HR) are often surprised just how much involvement and influence human resources has on hiring and corporate policies and procedures.  While HR might not have the final say in who your hiring manager or organization hires, they are involved in creating your company’s social media policy as well as the company’s background check policy and corporate investigations which many times involves social media.  Which is why involving your HR and recruiting teams in social media education and training is so important.

Since the term web blog was coined in 1997, social media and the internet has been a corporate wild card.  Employment law attorneys and corporate counsel have advised senior leaders and HR against allowing employees to have access to the internet as well as social media at work.  This is because the internet and social media is something that executives cannot control.  And by something, I mean your opinions, thoughts, feelings, and personal stories shared online right along side details about your work.  And by work I mean your company’s name, their brand attached to your own.

That’s the dilema with the social media mullet.  Many corporate professionals in HR and the C-Suite fear what they don’t understand.  How can someone talk about their job and work responsibilities and then 10 minutes later be tweeting about taking jello shots during the corporate holiday party?  Yes, I said Holiday instead of Christmas.  Some HR traditions die hard.

Workplace Social Media CYA

When it comes to the social media mullet, managing your own personal brand as well as the corporate brand you represent as an employee is necessary for your future employment at said corporation.  Doing the following things when it comes to social media, however, will not save your job:

  • Listing a disclaimer anywhere within your blog or social profiles.  If a company wishes to fire you, they are likely to find a reason; social media related or not.  While a disclaimer makes your corporate legal team sleep a little better at night, it doesn’t remove you or the company from liability.  Personally, that disclaimer on your Twitter bio takes up valuable SEO and keyword space for interested parties to find you.
  • Talking to your boss about your blog.  Even if your boss knows about your activities on the internet, social media related, or after hours, this fact won’t protect you from being terminated.  Sometimes in the corporate world of politics, your boss or even your boss’s boss isn’t the one who holds the keys to the kingdom.
  •  Anonymous blogging or tweeting isn’t protected.  Just because it’s anonymous doesn’t mean you are protected.  Just because you refer to someone hypothetically in your tweets or blog won’t keep you safe.  It’s likely someone knows in your office that you are the author of an anonymous blog or Twitter.  Word gets out, or you disclose a little too much.  Your company cuts their losses because of the potential risk you represent.

Social media and blogs can be an amazing source of information.  They can also be used effectively as a tool to position yourself as a industry thought leader or expert in your field as an individual as well as a business.  Managing your social media mullet will be a challenge.  The key is to understand and support your voice as well as your point of view in everything that you do both online as well as off.  With social media it’s a new super connected, 24/7 world we’re living in.   There is no such thing as CYA in the workplace and especially social media.

This is a four part series on Managing Your Social Media Mullet.  You can read about Part 1.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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