Social Media Could be Harming Your Company

Jan. 13, 2011
Make sure you have clear policies in place regarding social media in the workplace

Social media is transforming the business landscape. It allows people to connect in an online world to forge business relationships. As the prevalence of social media continues to grow, organizations of all types and sizes will benefit by using this powerful tool to create additional exposure, attract their target audience and drive customers to purchase from their companies.

However, along with the many benefits of social media, there are inevitable drawbacks. Social media has the power to present a number of dangers to your company and brand. Sitting behind computers, your employees may feel invincible and post damaging remarks or photos. Consequently, many hiring managers and HR departments are currently scrambling to add social media rules to their company policies.

Below are five prevalent ways that social media could be harming your company:

1. Negative Comments about Company and Co-workers. We all need to vent our frustrations from time-to-time. However, using social media as the forum of choice for posting negative comments such as “my company is going downhill” or “my boss is an idiot” are not acceptable. Remember, once your employee hits “send,” it’s out there.

2. Leaking Confidential Information. Make sure your employees are not using social media for discussing confidential and proprietary information. Since news and juicy tidbits travel quickly through social media, work-related information could be passed to the competition and, for that matter, the rest of the world.

3. Time-Consuming Activity. Social media can be a real distraction, and thus productivity can be lost. Guard against workers doing personal stuff on company time. Stress that while at work, social media is to be used for professional purposes only.

4. Competitor Smack Down. Make certain that your employees are not debasing or insulting the competition. In today’s business environment and global economy, situations can change rapidly and your competition today may become your partner and ally tomorrow.

5. Risky Behavior. Your employees should understand that posting improper photos on Facebook or leaving inappropriate tweets on Twitter will not be tolerated. Some clients could be listed among their “friends” or “followers” and therefore have access to all manner of indiscretions.

There’s no doubt that social media can add value to your business and brand, but the bottom line is that practicing good judgment is paramount. Keep in mind that even though an employee may not be an official company spokesperson, they may be perceived as such through social media.

Dan Charney is managing partner of Direct Recruiters Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based search firm for candidates in automated packaging and material handling systems. Since 1983, DRI has been filling executive level positions and building teams in sales, sales management, marketing, engineering and technical support.

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