This week’s focus is on social media policies and practices in the workplace, which got me thinking about all of the super impressive and varied work experiences I’ve had (sarcasm font), and how they’ve all called for vastly different social media protocols. I think this highlights the fact that every workplace is so unique, it is essential that policies and procedures are made to suit it specifically, judging on a case by case basis.
(Disclaimer: the following post reads shockingly closely to my sad and ridiculous resume. Your pity is welcome.)
Job A: Grass.
(Municipal Parks Worker)
Yeah, I was a townie. Yeah, I technically still am. But enough about me, what the hell could painting baseball diamonds and cutting grass have to do with social media? The lesson learned here is that no sector is exempt from being dramatically affected by social media practices, and every field can stand to benefit from actively creating policies surrounding its proper use for employees. To summarize the situation, public sector workers like myself could be said to be held to a higher standard than those in the private realm. We are paid by tax dollars, and therefore “every citizen is a customer.” Because we are essentially under constant surveillance while working outdoors in public spaces, taking a timeout to hop onto social media via cell phone is unacceptable.
Also, if one is willing to include work experience in online social profiles, naming the municipality as their current employer, their profile became fair game for public and professional scrutiny. One young lad was actually fired for being tagged in photos that depicted him drinking before he was of age, which a particularly disgruntled citizen happened to see, and being able to connect him to his place of employment, launched a complaint which resulted in his dismissal. Events like these have led the town to include extensive training for all employees on the mindful use of social media, and the requirement of a contract being filled out to acknowledge the possible repercussions of failing to do so. The bottom line here is, if something reflects poorly upon you, the effect is only amplified when it comes to the business that pays to get involved with you professionally. So like, be professional and stuff. Kay?
Job B: PR.
Okay, now this makes sense. In handling communications for a multimedia conglomerate, you’re going to come into contact with the public. And you’re going to do a lot of it online. Alas, the difference between one’s personal versus professional online presence here becomes highly problematic. This is in part due to the way that social media is physically structured. This tension was brought to the surface the other day when it became apparent that a colleague and I would have to befriend one of our superiors on Facebook in order to be made an admin of a business page for a television show we would be in charge of generating content for. Being the new kid, I kept to mentally shitting myself while outwardly nodding along like it was a non-issue, allowing my senior cohort to do the bitching. But why were we so concerned? Was it just the invasion of privacy? Sure, we could keep this woman on our limited profiles, but we still weren’t comfortable with being forced to grant her access to anything more than was necessary. Which in our minds, was nothing at all.
Also, at the click of a button, we now had the power to act on Facebook under the guise of the business page entity we were made an admin of. And if I may be so blunt, I’m your typical 21-year old university student. I have a lot of stupid friends who will lose no opportunity to hack my various accounts if I leave my laptop open while I take a tinkle. I also drink to the point of bad decision making quite frequently. (Don’t even get me started on leaving my computer unattended whiiiiile my dear friends are imbibing.) But regardless, because my professional actions have to take place by me logging onto my personal account, there is so little standing in the way of me creating any number of PR nightmares for the company who is trusting me with so much! Never mind tweeting a typo, what about the bigger stuff? And better yet, what about the countless cases of disgruntled employees seeking retribution on a former boss?
So essentially, every modern organization needs to lay their own ground rules, regardless of how strict or lenient they necessarily need be. Because it’s tricky terrain out in the digital landscape, my friends. And as of yet, there is no map.