In the past month, Pathways has been asked to develop eLearning modules on the topic of Social Media awareness and usage by three of our clients. Considering the frequency of these recent requests, I decided to spend a few weeks discussing how we use Social Media.
When discussing this topic with a friend he mentioned that while he was very careful with how he presented himself on social media when using his companies’ channels, he felt he could be “more himself” when using his personal social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
I thought about this for a moment and, knowing he was very wrong, did my best to explain my thoughts as I offered the following. With regards to our social media presence, and specifically the comments and actions we take, it is irrelevant if we use social media for work or not. What we say, or do on social media can in some cases reflect poorly on us and leave others with the wrong impression of not just yourself, but by extension of the organization you work for. My friend considered that for a moment and then asked what “guidelines” do I try and follow when using social media? Knowing I had already come across as “lecturing” him…I decided instead to offer this analogy….
When using social media, you should consider the “dinner party” lens.
Think about when you're at a dinner party with people you don’t know well. You're careful about the comments you make and the topics you choose to speak about. When we don’t know people well, we don’t make comments that could be offensive and we tend to choose conservative topics and language when we are not familiar with people’s views
The “dinner party” lens should also be applied to social media and you should consider this perspective before you post.
Something else to consider is the fact that for many of us in the workforce, social media is an extension of our organizations traditional communication channels and therefore, our companies’ values would still apply. We should also be mindful of our roles and responsibilities as employees when using social media. This would include a commitment to high standards of ethical and professional communication, consistent with offline environment and when communicating on behalf of our organization or when identifiable as an employee, we should be aware of the potential impact of our actions and act appropriately and with good judgment
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