Business

Social media and your staff

Hanniffa
Patterson

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

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A few weeks ago a staff member of a well-known company posted quite a deplorable tweet, with regards to some actions he planned to take. As is customary, the “Twitterverse” went into high gear, and in no time, screenshots were taken and the young man in question was reported to the police, his employers notified, and the hosts of the event where he was planning to perform the horrible act, also contacted.

Welcome to the world of social media. A tool for evil or good.

Powerful in either sense.

While at a Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) conference some time ago, the question was raised as how to handle such occurences, as an employer. There really is so much one could address, but here are four brief recommendations to companies on steps they could take.

1. HIRE WELL

Yes, it's all well and good that the staff member your hired, has a brand spanking new degree in digital marketing or integrated communications. It is quite important as a company to seek out someone with the necessary skills.

But a large and often overlooked aspect of social media is the importance of soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, self awareness and sensitivity required for the role. The person or peoples who have access to or manage your social media accounts should not just be technically competent, but emotionally so as well.

2. HAVE A SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY

I have said this in several articles before and can't stress the importance enough. There should be a clear, written document outlining the process for communicating online within your organisation. It should explain things such as who reports to who, what is said when, what constitutes a breach in policy and what is done when breaches occur.

This is also helpful if you outsource your social media accounts to external individuals or agencies.

3. LET EMPLOYEES KNOW THEY ARE ALWAYS REPRESENTING THE COMPANY

Employees need to know, that even out of uniform, they still represent your company.

In this day and age where everything and everyone is visible and being recorded, one truly can't be too careful. Our professional life doesn't end when we leave the office. So unfortunately for some, our other activities, can (and will) have an implication on our professional image — even the image of your company.

That young man should not even have considered such a post. But when he did, even though he never mentioned anything personal that could identify himself or link him to his company, within a few hours his place of work was identified and alerted.

4. EDUCATE YOUR STAFF

You would be surprised to learn how many staff members are social media novices. They don't truly understand the uses and implications of how social media impacts their lives — whether or not they are online and active. If your company is one that is on the forefront of technology, or hopes to be, educate your staff — not just the members accessing the social media pages or the social media team.

The truth is that when it comes to social media faux pas online, intention does not matter. No one cares whether it was an accident or if what it was intended as a joke.

In the online space, sticks and stones can't break bones, but words, can not only hurt you now, but also your reputation, and career possibilities for the future.

As we move forward into a truly digital, data driven, all seeing-ever watching era, it is both the employee's and employers' responsibility to use social media responsibly and professionally. To learn to master their current self.

Your future literally depends on it.

For training or further details on social media in business reach out to Hanniffa Patterson with any questions or a topic you'd like her to address in this column at hanniffa.patterson@gmail.com .


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