Alexandra Levit is a career columnist for the bi-monthly Metro-US and author of five books including “New Job, New You.” Levit recently shared her take on social-media use in the workplace with SmartBrief’s Abe Silk.
As a workplace-issues expert, what advice do you have for companies to ensure that their employees are using social media effectively, for work rather than personal reasons?
Beware of policies that are too broad-sweeping, or that force you to micromanage. For instance, categorically denying any one group, or all groups, access to social media at work in this age is unrealistic. Fairness and consistency is part of the reason, but a bigger reason is that burying your head in the sand and thinking you can stop your employees’ use of social media because you block those sites from the corporate network is simply not going to work.
Have you noticed a trend among companies that previously forbade the use of sites such as Facebook in the workplace updating their staff policy manuals to reflect the increase of employees using social media for work?
Yes, and this is great! Every organization should have a written social-media policy that includes the following points:
- Define what you mean by social media — for most, social media means an online forum for two-way communication.
- Clarify who will own work products created on social-media sites.
- Spell out the type of information considered proprietary or confidential — customer details, company financial data, etc. — and say that it should never be shared on these sites.
- Spell out the type of potentially damaging information that should never be shared on these sites: offensive comments, libelous statements, illegal activity, etc.
- Determine which employees should be contributing to social-media sites on behalf of the company and what activities these individuals should be engaged in.
Should someone be monitoring whether or not social media is being used appropriately?
Yes, you should to have someone — or multiple someones — in the communications department monitoring what is being said in social media, both from an internal and external perspective. It is the same thing as having a staff member monitor what is said in the press. The conversation will take place with or without you and it’s always best to be informed. It’s not as easy to dictate your image as it used to be, but strategic social-media monitoring and participation can help you shape it.
Image credit, Alexandra Levit