Social media is more than just a big part of our personal lives — it’s unavoidable in today’s world.
Whether businesses like it or not, social media use spills into employee work time. But when it comes to work and your professional life, there are just some things that shouldn’t be shared on social media.
So, how do you know what you’re allowed to post and what’s definitely off-limits? Can you friend your boss? How about that new client you just hit it off with? Is that okay?
We’re here to answer at least some of your questions with five dos and four don’ts for smart, corporate-approved social media use. In addition to these tips, don’t forget to review your company’s guidelines for corporate-approved social media use to make sure you’re not jeopardizing your job or the company you work for.
If you’re responsible for making sure your employees follow these and other guidelines for social media use through awareness training, consider this article a primer on what should be covered.
5 Things TO Do
1. Do Be Smart About Sharing Information
Social media moves at nearly the speed of light (literally and figuratively). The multitude of trending news and information on social media pressures us to constantly keep up with that always-on mentality and share updates of our own.
However, you can’t always share everything.
On a mission to keep your social media network updated, it’s understandable that when you finally signed a big client, solved a big problem, or finished a big project, the first thing you want to do is run to Facebook and share the big news! However, what if that information was supposed to remain confidential?
There are all sorts of confidentiality agreements that exist in business—between a client and your organization, as well as between the organization and yourself. By publicly sharing any company news without permission, you can violate both agreements.
While your excitement to share the news was well-intentioned, you should always take that extra second to ask yourself whether or not you’re allowed to share company information. If you’re not sure, then you probably shouldn’t!
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to review your company’s guidelines for corporate-approved social media use to make sure you’re not jeopardizing your job or the company you work for.
2. Do Be on The Lookout For Social Engineering Attempts, Scams, and Malware
You likely use social media to stay current on news, catch up with friends and family, and network with others in your industry. However, others use social media and social engineering to prey on the unsuspecting and to steal their information.
Whether you’re using social media at home or at work, be vigilant about identifying potential social media scams. This means resisting connection requests from people you don’t recognize at all and avoiding hacked accounts and malware.
In fact, social engineering scams are becoming more difficult to spot because they’re also coming from seemingly trusted sources like friends, professional references, and even family — so be cautious.
Bad guys of all sorts may capture your password and send messages to your friends, embed malware in clickable images or links in blogs or comments, or send you phony invitations or requests with the intention of stealing your information with one simple click.
Phishing is a common social engineering scam, where the attackers use emails, social media and instant messaging, and even SMS to trick victims into providing sensitive information or visiting a malicious URL in an attempt to compromise their systems.
Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for scams, such as unexpected friend requests, to-good-to-be true sales offers, or suspicious looking posts from normally reputable company pages.
3. Do Mind Your Words
If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: the information you post online is neither anonymous, nor private. Contrary to popular belief, online is forever, meaning, whatever you post online will never truly be gone, even if you delete it.
So, think before you speak. Don’t engage in conversations that you may regret years, months, or even seconds later.
For this reason, it’s important to mind your words on social media. That means being sure to:
- Portray yourself and the company you work for in a positive light
- Never harass, threaten, defame, or discriminate against coworkers, managers, customers, or anyone else
- Respect your colleagues by not posting photos or information about them without their permission
- Never speak as an official agent or spokesperson of your organization unless you are specifically assigned to do so
- If you are an approved representative, always present an accurate identity online, including your full name and position in our organization
Pro Tip: Keep your social media posts professional and above all, polite, especially if they are public. There’s an old saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” which is great advice to follow when it comes to corporate-approved social media use.
4. Do Be Careful About Boundaries
Social media is a powerful networking tool because it provides an open window into your life so others can get to know you better. This window gives friends and followers a better understanding of who you are and what you do. While this can greatly benefit you and the company you work for at times, it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.
It’s important to apply good judgement when blending your personal life with your professional life on social media. If you’re unsure you can manage balancing boundaries, this may mean you need to designate some networks as public and professional and others as private and personal.
For example, you could use Twitter and LinkedIn as your public professional network where you connect with colleagues and share industry-related news, while your Facebook is private and reserved for personal use. This way, Facebook would not be the place where you “friend” your boss or that new client, and LinkedIn is.
By keeping lines between what is personal and what is professional, you’ll be able to ensure you’re always posting the appropriate content to the right social channel.
Pro Tip: If you aren’t going to keep things separate, make sure you keep track of where you’re posting and what you’re posting.
5. Do Curb Your Use
This may seem scary or nearly impossible, but it is probably our best advice. Just like you need to be mindful about what information you share on social media, you also need to be mindful about how much you use it.
Let’s say you get into work in the morning and check your Facebook account. While you’re there you update your status, stumble upon an interesting news story, like the update that announces your best friend from college just got engaged, and scroll through 100 photos of your colleague’s new home. Before you know it, 45 minutes have gone by and you haven’t even started your work day. I mean, what’s the harm?
According to a Global Web Index social media trends report, internet users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes per day on social networking and messaging platforms. If some of this is spent at work, it can greatly affect the productivity of your work day, not to mention, you are also on company time.
However, if you’re wondering if social media completely kills productivity, it actually comes down to the employee. Social media use has proven to be a good thing for some employees, while others are just simply slackers — meaning, they will not become a star employee just because you limit their social media use, they will just find another way to slack off at work.
Chances are approved social media use is laid out in your company’s Acceptable Use policy. Review it and keep an eye open for updates to the policy to make sure you’re not overstepping any bounds.
Pro Tip: Using social media doesn’t have to land you in a tricky situation at work. Remember to be mindful of the amount of time you spend on social media for personal use. By following these five best practices and utilizing a healthy dose of common sense, you’ll be able to not only master social media, but your job duties as well.
4 Things TO NOT Do
1. Don’t Share Too Much Information
While you should be smart about what information you share, it’s also important to be mindful about how much information you share. While you may be able to share some company or work information, you could also share too much.
Some things are better left unsaid, especially on social media. For both business and personal accounts, it should go without saying that proprietary information should never be shared online with a public audience.
2. Don’t Share Strong Opinions
Social media can be tricky, and with so much information, it can be tempting to share your opinions with everyone.
While you should be authentic and true to yourself online, sometimes sharing your strong opinions, especially in relation to political or controversial subject matter, can get you or your company into trouble.
If you’re looking to build a professional audience on a public social media channel, it’s best to leave certain subjects out of your conversations. With so much valuable content and ideas to exchange, there are much more productive ways to grow and relate to your audience rather than sharing strong opinions on tricky topics.
Keep political views to a private personal channel. If the job calls for it, you might want to consider keeping your professional and personal profiles separate.
3. Don’t Forget to Grammar Check
Before posting anything, don’t forget to sit back and reread it.
There is nothing that will destroy credibility faster than a post filled with spelling and grammar errors. What’s more, some grammar errors can completely change your post, and you don’t want that mixup or embarrassment from that one post coming back to haunt you.
4. Don’t Lie
Don’t risk your professional reputation (or the company you work for) by sharing false or misleading information online.
Be honest about your life and tell the truth. Whether it’s personal or professional, only post factual information. If the temptation to fabricate or bend the truth arises, use that as a signal that you probably shouldn’t post what you’re considering posting.
The impact of social-media on our everyday lives is immense; something unimaginable even just 10 years ago. According to one report, 64% of internet users worldwide (3.6 billion people) are active on social-media, with 77% of employees admitting to using social-media while on the clock.
Separate from clicking malicious links spread socially, the pitfalls of irresponsible social-media use include damage to a company’s organization due to an inappropriate post or re-share or the unintended release of proprietary information.
The benefits of near-instantaneous communication and the potential for positive social change inherent to social media come with a dark side. Being too quick to share can have lasting negative impacts not just on your company, but the personal lives of employees, too.
The ubiquity of social tools demands clear policies laying out rules for accessing social media at work and what should be shared and posted on behalf of the company.
As part of an overall security awareness strategy, employees should not only familiarize themselves with the company’s policy for approved social media use, but also be aware of the most common social engineering tactics in order to avoid a breach or an attack.
By knowing how the attacks work and understanding the company’s social media policy, employees can be more aware and better protect the privacy of themselves and the company without putting any private or confidential information at risk.
Get in touch with one of our experts to learn how MediaPRO can help you build in lessons about acceptable use of social media into an broader, multi-risk approach to security awareness.