The line between personal and work-related use of social media tools is often not easily distinguished. However, creating some distinction is advisable because it helps employees understand what communications and actions will impact their employment. For instance, Facebook is often considered a personal social network unrelated to business. However, one piece of information a Facebook user can include on his or her profile is where he or she works. A Facebook user can also connect with professional groups, become a “fan” of the public profiles of politicians, businesses, and causes, and share materials with other users of the network. Thus, actions on Facebook or any other social media website could have an impact on the personal and professional life of an employee and may reflect on the employer.
When addressing employees’ personal use of social media tools in the work place, an organization must consider the following questions:
1) Should any such use be permitted?
2) If such use is permitted, will employees be restricted to merely accessing social media websites? (e.g. May employees only check the activity on their Facebook accounts?)
3) If such use is permitted, after accessing websites, will employees be permitted to comment on, post information to, and otherwise utilize those websites? (e.g., May employees update their status or share a news story on their Facebook account?)
The impact of posting content, pictures, videos or anything else on a social media website can vary from insignificant to a viral event that becomes mainstream news. Setting a social media policy will not change this reality, but it will encourage employees to think about what they are posting and the impact of such posts. The following are some related issues that organizations should consider when addressing personal versus work-related questions.
So what is your organizations answer to the above questions? If you don’t know the answer would you like to know?