By this time, we’ve settled some of the thorny issues surrounding social media posting – private and corporate – and everyone has a clear directive as to how to use a medium that was more or less coopted by the business world. Right? Wrong. While we understand the basic principals of private or non-work postings and posts intended to affirm a company’s place in the market – we still have some basics misconceptions about what is OK to do and what is not. Originally intended as a form of personal expression and a way to stay in touch with friends, rules and etiquette seemed unnecessary – common sense and decency would keep it problem free. Right?
Apparently not. Not only was it necessary to establish guidelines for the business community, but it seems the private world had lost its grip on the sensible, right thing to do and the ranks of the offended and aggrieved steadily grew. Which is where we are currently – aware of the changes over these last 10 or so years, but still committing faux pas. Posting is not the spontaneous ad hoc event we thought it was – but neither is it to be strangled by stiff and strict rules that render it unappealing and dull. For those leading a double life – if they are simultaneously posting personal and company info – there are some remedies, and for those only responsible for personal posts, it’s time to step up your game.
For a business, it’s not only imperative to have an actual written policy on the use of social media posting, it’s a good idea to have a presentation to the staff that allows for Q&A to clarify any points. Update meetings on an as needed basis. This goes along way in avoiding law suits and firings when everyone knows what company expectations are. It’s also a mini civics lesson, encompassing such lofty issues as freedom of speech and asking for permission before doing an online search of potential employees. This is a rich discourse for people to have – and community building in and of itself.
Individuals need to have nearly as detailed a plan in their own minds about what they post. For example, posting pictures that are flattering to you but unflattering to your friend/client. Best to archive it, yet it happens all the time – maybe not even out of any self aggrandizement but more a momentary lapse in the Golden Rule – post unto others as you would have them post unto you. Be your own curator insofar as you have a vision to establish and maintain – that’s stepping up to the next level.
For those responsible for both private and corporate commentary, it’s easy to blur the lines since socializing often includes co-workers or industry events. This is where your own personal commitment to creating worthy social media can have great bearing on how you approach job duties. Did you remember to ask permission for people featured in pix or blogs? This is a standard now in both commercial and private sectors. In a recent Sophos poll, 83% of respondents thought obtaining permission was common courtesy.
Another question to ask: who am I profiling in this post – me or the company? If the company seems to be merely a backdrop for your adventure then try flipping the script – make the company the center of the story and if that’s not possible then the post is not appropriate. Other more mature mediums, like journalism and film/TV, have had guidelines for a long time, so adopting some of their rules wouldn’t be a bad idea. In other words, the days of the Wild West are gone – at least for this medium. It’s what happens when things grow and evolve – and we as users have little choice but to grow with it.
*Useful Tip: Hoot Suite has tons of information well worth exploring – especially useful – their guide to developing business models for social media posting.