Five Things Managers Should Never Do On Social Media

Barbara Siegel

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Many professionals have learned that the Internet has a long memory.  If you have heard that term before, it implies that what is said on blogs, comments or social networks is indexed (cached) by search engines such as Google and Bing.   Comments, responses and seemingly innocuous statements can return to haunt even the most professional digital user.

Most organizations embrace the value of sharing on social networks when it comes to events, activities and positive reflections or industry insights.  Following or engaging with colleagues on social networks such as LinkedIn is not only common, but necessary for business professionals to make valuable business to business connections.   And sometimes for business leaders, that also means connecting with members of your internal team or employees and subordinates.

The Benefits to Sharing With Staff on Social Media

Your internal staff (or Faculty) are your biggest organizational ambassadors.  Encouraging staff to create professional business social network accounts and linking to them can have a number of promotional benefits.  Your customers enjoy seeing rich engaged sharing by all employees of your organization.  It is also a way for staff to demonstrate their expertise within the specific business niche as thought leaders.

Managers can react and respond to positive statements and sharing about the organization.  Making comments on productive posts, professional milestones and other ways of acknowledging people help to foster goodwill between managers and employees.

For all the positive impact that sharing on social media can have for Managers, there are a number of activities and engagements that present a risk to damaging the reputation of the organization, of staff as well as business relationships.   What should a Manager avoid to keep it productive and professional on social media?

Five Things Managers Should Never Do

1.       Never reprimand staff on social channels. 

If you are connected to some of your team through social networks, do not use it at a forum to openly discuss assignments or grievances with your employee.  Whether the criticism is constructive or not, no one likes to have attention drawn to their flaws.  Avoid discussing negative feedback in an open online forum.

Don’t be tempted to comment when or if staff members are discussing another Manager or employee.  There have been many examples of successful legal defamation suits filed for bullying or slander on social media.  Whatever you put in writing (either openly or through private message) is admissible in court.

2.       Overshare personal information or reactions. 

Half of Instagram consists of photography of plates and meals at restaurants.  Some personal things are very harmless to share, such as your favorite restaurant or a new recipe.  But expression of very personal emotions, anger, frustration or other volatile mood on social media should be avoided.  Regardless of the context, it is uncomfortable when anyone shares very personal information on social network accounts that are normally geared toward business.

Be prepared to manage and respond accordingly to negative comments or responses by non-staff members in a polite manner.

3.       Use Profanity

It is much easier to refrain entirely than excuse a Tweet or Facebook post later (particularly if it is shared).   With Google and Bing cache, future readers may continue to see the comments long after they have been deleted.  Keep your business social media networks professional at all times.

4.       Pressure Staff to Connect on Personal Accounts

If your organization does not have a social media policy and staff members are not using official business accounts, do not assume that they will want to connect with Managers or Supervisors on personal accounts.   Sending an invitation to connect on LinkedIn is the exception.

5.       Sharing Images on Social 

Keep profile pictures and shared images conservative and professional.   If sharing images from business events, use your best judgement and avoid inappropriate photos.  If sharing photography of another business or organization, check to ensure that you have permission to publish them to avoid copyright or liability.

By keeping it simple and professional, Managers can avoid the pitfalls of engaging on social networks with colleagues, staff and key upper management.  Remember while using business accounts that you are an ambassador for your organization, brand or product and your comments, actions and conversations will either reflect positively or poorly on your employer.

Remember that if you are in doubt, you can “under-share” to be on the safe side and avoid responding to internet trolls and negative commentary to preserve not only your reputation, but that of your organization.


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