Social Media in the Workplace: Is it Your Friend?

Social media in the workplace- do you let your employees use it?

Posted by Joe Gerard in on September 21st, 2010

Social media in the workplace- do you let your employees use it? During the SCCE Compliance and Ethics Institute general session that took place on Monday morning, the panel discussed the topic of social media in the workplace. This session was really interesting, as each employer had a different view surrounding employee access to social media in the workplace. One thing that all of the panelists agreed on is that completely eliminating social media from the workplace is difficult, and not exactly recommended. The panel brought up instances where people had been fired due to the information posted on their social networks- crude jokes, discriminatory remarks, negative comments about their employer or fellow employees, etc. The lesson learned from these examples: you are still responsible for the content you post regardless of if you are at work or not. As stated by Orrie Dinstein from GE, “workplace rules still apply online.”

Social Media Controls

The panelists for this session were:

  • Adam Turteltaub, CCEP, CHC, Vice President of Membership Development, The SCCE (moderator)
  • Orrie Dinstein, Chief Privacy Leader and Senior IP Counsel, GE Capital
  • Kimberly Cilke, JD, Assistant General Counsel, Go Daddy
  • Grace F. Renbarger, Vice President – Legal, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Dell

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Here’s some of my notes from the comments and discussion that took place during this session:

– The generation entering the workforce grew up with social media. Some of the speakers during this session even went as far as to say that this generation lives on these networks. Therefore, shutting down access to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms will likely push some of these people to go after jobs where social media is embraced in the workplace.

– Last year, Dell made $6.5 million off of Twitter alone.

– Companies should establish different levels of control to make sure information posted on social media outlets is accurate.

– Blogs, forums and crowdsourcing: Use social media as a way to talk to the public, answer their questions, find ways to better meet their needs and make adjustments to products and increase transparency.

– Train employees how to use social media if they are publishing content or leaving comments on behalf of the company. Not all employees will be allowed to do so, but for those who are in charge of managing company social media, train them and develop corporate policies.

– Grace Renbarger from Dell stated that monitoring employee use of social media is a task for their direct supervisors. If a supervisor feels an employee is spending too much time surfing around on the Internet and social media sites rather than doing their job, address the issue with the employee.

– Social media has a profound impact on internal communication in the workplace. Many companies establish private pages, groups or networks to post documents and share information. This increases the speed of internal communication.

The Right Way to Use Social Media in the Workplace

Suggestions from the panel:

  • Make examples out of those that have previously failed. Tell stories of others who were fired or reprimanded for posting unacceptable information on their social media networks.
  • Social media allows companies to reduce negative comments about their products through damage control and being visible to the public. Gathering feedback and input helps companies respond to their customers.
  • Tell employees to be upfront about their name, company they work for and their title at the beginning of a comment or post on a website, blog, etc. Let employees know they can provide advice or make comments using their own opinion as well, they simply have to state, “in my opinion”, rather than making it seem like the advice is coming from the company.
  • Trial and error. Something’s work for a company that might not work in another, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just means that it might not be right for that particular company. Train employees on issues pertaining to social media usage. As previously mentioned, each employee won’t be using social media in the same way, so tailor training to the various control levels.

Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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