Being (Social) Media Savvy
Who would have thought a candid comment to a closed group of friends on Facebook could land you in trouble – especially when the people you were talking about had no access to your Facebook profile? Richmond AFL footballer Daniel Jackson didn’t think so, and neither did I.
On my Facebook profile I made references to a particular organisation’s turnover of staff. Specifically, I queried how long new employees in this organisation would last. There was no malicious intent; it was just my point of view. At the time I thought it was funny. At the time I thought it was no different from an open discussion I would have with ‘my mates’ over drinks. At the time I thought it was private. I was naïve. I was wrong.
Whilst social media websites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter are largely used as forms of self-expression, I have come to agree with Brett Hutchens’ view that social media is now considered to “fall into the category of public comment and [online comments] can have the same consequences as comments in any other form of media”. Olympic champion, Stephanie Rice recently learned this hard reality.
There are several documented cases where others have fallen foul of their employers by making unsavoury comments in online forums. And in many of those cases, employers have sought to stretch existing policies, like ‘Codes of Conduct’, to cover comments made by staff (outside of work hours) in online forums. There is still legal debate on whether these policies can be extended to cover personal activity, especially when the activity is outside of ‘working hours’. Therefore as a new employee (June 2010), I was impressed that Telstra had initiated a policy to firmly outline its position on the use of social media.
The 3Rs Policy eliminates doubt and reminds staff on how they should conduct themselves online. Importantly, this policy reminds staff how to represent the company and themselves. It is reassuring to note that like Telstra, other companies have pro-actively created social media policies because they too are interested in not only protecting the company, but also their employees.
The concepts underpinning the 3Rs are not new: to represent, to respect and to take responsibility. Many of us have had these principles instilled in us from an early age and many of us are also successful in applying these concepts. However, we just need to remember to translate these same principles as we integrate social media into our own working and personal lives.
Is there a place for social media policies, and what elements should a good social media policy contain?
In the interests of public debate, do you believe that social media policies should be enforceable by companies?