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Social media policies for employees: what’s cool, and what’s not

Social media has made some work boundaries a little blurry. We’ve talked about whether or not it’s okay to friend your employees on Facebook in the past, and this time we’re talking about social media policies.

When it comes to social media, employees want to know how do you keep your personal life personal, and professional life professional — and is it possible to if your job is in marketing? How do bosses and employees keep things professional when they are linked through social media? Brad and I talk about social media policies and how we’ve created boundaries around our social media lives to keep some separation of personal and professional separation. 



Since I work online, I’m very aware of what I put on the internet is for all to see. (Though not everyone in my generation is!) So I’m careful and purposeful about how I use each social account; LinkedIn and G+ are professional, but also a little personal so I’m not a robot and can foster relationships there. My Twitter is more personal than professional. My Facebook and Instagram are personal.

I’m sure you’ve picked up on that by now, but I wonder if social media policies are something we should have talked about beforehand, like how I’d like to use my social accounts for work-related stuff, since I do a lot of content sharing. For example, a past company wanted me to share a lot of company things through my personal LinkedIn, but it wasn’t relevant to what I wanted to be seen as on LinkedIn, so I resisted it. I don’t share much EnMast content from my Twitter account because I want it to be a more personal, and basically never from my Facebook.

Has that ever bothered you that I don’t share much through my personal Twitter account? Or always share content from my LinkedIn account?



The social world has put us in a lot of confusing situations, right?

First off, your social accounts are yours. You do with them as you please. I would hope that if you were doing really great work that you were proud of, you’d share it! But what goes on your personal accounts is up to you – that’s what I think about social media policies.

Of course you are the primary personality on the EnMast accounts and you will likely become “known” there — so there’s inevitably bleeding over from one to another.

I do follow you on Instagram, and so I see more of your “personal” stuff there. But (so far) I always like what see there. I think if I started to see things that bothered me I’d stop looking!

Now, I don’t mean to sound like your father here … but I do think it’s important that you are aware that everything you do online is out there for all to see. People will judge you based on what you put on there. We all have to use some judgment about what we say and do online. I’m not going to tell you what you can or can’t say on your personal accounts, but it can affect your ability to be effective at your job (if you started spouting something really offensive, for example) and that would be a problem that we’d have to address. So just always use good judgment, and I don’t see any issues!



“So far”?

But I’m glad you respect that my ‘personal’ social accounts are mine and don’t ‘mandate’ that they be used for company purposes. I’ve had SEVERAL friends and colleagues tell me how their employers require that they use their personal social accounts for the business. I’ve also had others tell me how they have to hand over their passwords to their Facebook, Twitter, etc., too.

It’s not like your company email address where the company and your boss can access it at any time because it is technically their property. My social accounts are MY property, so when my employer mandates or requires me to share things from them on behalf of the company for the sake of promotion, that makes me angry – my boss should not have the authority to require me to share items for them on MY personal accounts.

Now I will share company things (i.e. articles, job postings, etc.) if it’s relevant to me and my network. On LinkedIn for example, that is my professional space where I want to present myself as an expert in my field. So I’ll share relevant things to my area of work, and share the work I’m proud of that I produced (like an article on Millennials), or a marketing job opening at my company because of its relevancy. Say I work for a pizza company, and my boss wants me to share our latest blog post about different types of pizza sauce – that is not something that represents me or relevant to my professional network. Plus it shows poor marketing! (Blast marketing for the sake of promoting, and not to the target market) So of course I won’t share it. Does that make sense?

So I really appreciate that you respect that. What do you think about companies who have social media policies that require access to their employee’s accounts, or require them to share content from the company?



Of course, it depends… I could see a media company requiring a reporter to distribute his/her stories and interact with fans and readers. But if I was that media company, I’d want to own that account (and have an agreement with the employee to that effect).

For folks who aren’t “part of the product,” I think your position is right on. I don’t ask you to put a sign on your lawn or a bumper sticker on your car just because you work here!

Do you have a social media policy at your company? What are the parameters that you have set for them?  

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