Almost everyone who uses the Internet uses social media even in the workplace. There’s nothing wrong with employees using their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at work. However, it’s important to impose guidelines. The excessive use and abuse of social media, especially among employees, can adversely affect not only the productivity of workers but also the company itself. It helps to educate everyone in the workplace about social media ethics.
Social Media Ethics
That employees should use social media properly and not excessively is something everyone already knows. The question is what is proper use and how much is too much? The following discussions about social media ethics should be useful for business owners, managers, and employees.
Think of the consequences of social media posts on the business or organization
Everyone working in a company should realize that everything they do on social media can have implications for their respective companies. Their good deeds can have positive effects on their company to some extent. Conversely, their embarrassing actions or misdemeanor can damage the reputation of the business they are working in.
To somewhat remove this interrelation, employees should avoid linking themselves with their companies. In other words, they should not list their companies in their social media profile or post information that can link themselves to their companies. This does not completely take away the connection but at the very least, it makes it difficult for netizens to connect the unflattering actions of employees to the businesses where they are employed.
This is not to say that employees can proceed to unrestrainedly do whatever they want on social media once they make sure that they remove the hints of their connection to their employers. It is still important for everyone to observe propriety and caution in social media use.
Many companies don’t demand their employees to dissociate themselves from their employers but require them to explicitly indicate that their social media posts are their personal expressions and not reflective of the policies or leanings of the companies that employ them. The Adidas social media policy, for example, allows workers to disclose their association with the company and brand but instructs employees to make it clear that their posts are entirely their own.
There’s a need for policies on social media use in the workplace.
Proper use of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other similar sites is not limited to avoiding common social media mistakes. While the ethics of social media use is mostly about not doing certain things, it’s not just about passive acts. There are things the management and employees have to do proactively. Policies are necessary to ensure order and avoid problems.
It only makes sense for the management to impose policies before anything untoward happens. Businesses need to see the relevance and influence of social media at present. It’s imprudent to fail to take social media into account when making company policies, as the risks are significant and the consequences are often difficult to remedy. At the same time, employees have to faithfully follow the social media policies laid out by their employers. Workplace social media ethics calls for the involvement of both management and workers in maintaining proper social media use through the establishment of policies and abiding by them.
Do not do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you
This hackneyed saying may sound cheesy and overrated, but it’s highly applicable in the use of social media in the workplace. If you want respect from others, you have to be respectful yourself. Doing something that harms someone, even only through words on social media, means that you are opening yourself to the possibility of retaliation that could be worse than what you committed.
This dictum should be shared not only by those who are in the same company. It also applies to relationships with other companies or competitors. Social media managers should refrain from initiating incendiary posts against competing companies. It’s one thing being competitive and another being unreasonably abrasive. Avoid attacking competitors on social media, particularly if the attacks are based on intrigues, false accusations, and lies. Employees, likewise, should avoid starting unsavory exchanges with the employees of other companies. Doing this is counterproductive and can backfire terribly.
Be truthful and shun the falsehoods
In the age of fake news and aggressive propaganda online, it’s important to be committed to the truth. It should be a policy for everyone to make sure that what they post online are true or accurate. It’s never flattering for a business or brand to be associated with falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and malicious fakery. Official company social media accounts or the accounts of employees posting these unwanted content online should be corrected as soon as possible.
Truthfulness is something businesses should impose on their ads and marketing campaigns. It’s not just about employees not spreading lies about their fellow employees. The people responsible for the social media promotions of a company should avoid making false accusations, misleading claims, and malicious posts against competitors. Workplace social media ethics is not just for employees as they relate with other employees, but about the business use of social media in general.
There have to be limitations in posting information online
It’s important to be truthful, but limits should be observed on the truths or facts posted online. Employees should be oriented and reminded that they cannot reveal financial, operational, and other critical details about the company on their social media accounts. Likewise, information about customers and clients should never be shared with anyone over social media.
Delicate company information should only be communicated through official, preferably secure, channels. Social media is by no means a safe way to transmit and discuss sensitive details about a business. It’s acceptable to discuss customer information such as account details and bills over Facebook or Twitter as many use social media for customer support. Talking about financial and operational data or the details of a new project, however, is a different matter. Employees should be prohibited from discussing R&D in group chats that allow just anyone to add new members, more so on public posts.
Be cautious in posting rants that can be detrimental to a company
Exposing complaints against something involving a company on social media is unacceptable unless you are doing it to address wrongdoing that can no longer be resolved by internal mechanisms. If there are problems, the first step should always be to settle the matter with the management. Virtually all companies have internal mechanisms for addressing issues in the workplace. It’s not right to divulge these problems without letting the standard procedures for conflict resolution take their course.
Whistleblowing is frowned upon in the business community. The public may appreciate it, but it can gravely harm businesses. It’s important to be cautious in revealing information online that can adversely impact a company’s image and profitability. These don’t only affect the business, but also the employees and others who rely on the business.
This is not to suppress the freedom of expression. It’s about being prudent in posting things that can have dire consequences. Even simple complaints on trivial matters within a company (published online) can leave a lingering bad impression that distorts public perception of a brand or product line. Imagine if someone working in an infant formula company questions on social media the “new and improved” tag of their product, and reveals that there were actually no improvements introduced in the product formulation. Yes, it’s not good for companies to mislead but it’s also unethical for employees to serve as the spark that starts the destructive fire that damages their employers.
Social media should not be a place for embarrassing or humiliating people
This reminder is something the management and employees should take into account. Managers and supervisors should not be lecturing or admonishing employees on social media. It’s a no-no posting on Facebook something that reveals the failure of a product development team and comparing their work to that of a competitor’s. No desirable results are achieved in humiliating employees online because of their performance, let alone because of their personal actions.
Likewise, employees should not be posting details online bashing or maligning their bosses or fellow employees. If there are issues, If there are issues, everyone should cooperate to settle them internally and discreetly. Even if the posts are meant to be jokes, it’s important to be careful and to avoid writing anything that can be interpreted in the wrong ways.
Be culturally sensitive and politically neutral
At present, many assail political correctness and excessive propriety in relation to the need to be more assertive in calling out wrongs in society. However, these are things that are still important for businesses. That’s why it is advisable to avoid posts, comments, or jokes that can be offensive to people with different cultures and political inclinations.
This reminder is particularly applicable to companies that do social media marketing in a foreign market. One tiny mistake can lead to the failure of a social media campaign. It’s crucial to be well-versed with the local cultural and political situation.
Internally, it’s also necessary for everyone in the workplace to be mindful of the cultural and political implications of social media posts. While there are businesses that have not suffered after standing their ground on matters involving culture and politics, it is more logical to avoid being in hot water. It would be preferable to promote tolerance instead of herding the workplace to one side in an issue, regardless of whether or not it’s obvious which side is right or wrong.
Communication with the help of translation
If you are using social media for marketing in a foreign market, make sure your posts are appropriate and cannot be interpreted in the wrong way, especially as you use a foreign language. You can trust Day Translations, Inc. to provide dependable language services for your promotional campaigns in different languages.
Contact us by telephone at 1-800-969-6853 or by sending us an email at Contact us. Our language experts are always eager to provide the solutions you need, from translation to interpreting, website localization, and transcription services. We maintain an international network of native speaker language service providers who can cater to your needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Our company serves businesses and organizations across industries in different parts of the world.
Image Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo