I am sat in the sunshine considering the question of whether all employees are brand managers something that will be discussed on SWChat tomorrow night. (For those not aware it is a G+ community with a hangout on air on Monday night at 9pm UK time). The question is a key one because it tackles the issue about whether you can have a private life if you use social media.
From my perspective I don’t think you can split yourself or segment your life any more if you are going to go public about aspects of it. There can no longer be a work you, a home you etc if you are going to connect with people through social networks. The networks operate globally and cut through classes, boundaries and that includes in your public and private life. You cannot create artificial divisions or put up walls around your conversations.
Every time you post something on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or any other network it can be viewed by everyone. That could be your mum, friend, work colleagues or more importantly your boss. It is no longer enough to say ‘these views are my own’ because if people know who you are working for then anything you say could have an impact on that company or organisation. There is every chance that your random musings or comments could bring the organisation you work for into disrepute.
This is a complex world that we are now living in. People like to have the opportunity of meeting and connecting with people through social networks but they are often blind to the problems that they may be creating. Providing suitable training and information for employees is a hugely critical piece of work that makes internal communication on this issue a top priority. I have been really impressed by some of the work that the Armed Services have been doing through @soldierUK on Twitter. They are trying to find ways of raising the issues about personal use of social media but not just for you but how are your family and friends using it.
Even if we are really careful about what we say and post then we could get tagged in a photograph or conversation that may be damaging. So it really is important to ensure that close friends, family and colleagues are aware of what is and is not acceptable when using social media to converse with you.
So many organisations have been busy trying to understand how corporately they can connect to customers using social media that they have forgotten to look inward at what their employees are doing. If we provide the training and support and they get things wrong then they only have themselves to blame, but if we don’t provide that guidance perhaps it is the companies or businesses that have to share some of the responsibility.