Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Social Media: Making the Right Connections

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Social Media: Making the Right Connections

Article excerpt

FACEBOOK, Twitter, LinkedIn are brilliant for catching up with friends, reaching out to contacts and promoting your business. In fact these days, if you don't have a social media strategy for your business, you're behind the curve and potentially not meeting client expectations.

But it isn't all about "likes", followers and getting your tweets "favourited". Queries from exasperated HR professionals and business owners about social media issues are on the rise as staff struggle to draw the line between what's public and what really ought to be kept private.

In one case, an employee had his phone taken by colleagues who, without asking, posted a status update on his Facebook page saying "finally came out of the closet. I am gay and proud". As it happened, he was neither, and unhappy enough about the joke to claim before an Employment Tribunal that he had been unlawfully harassed on the grounds of sexual orientation. His employer, a well-known retailer, was found liable for the actions of its employees which occurred during working hours and involved dealings between its staff and their manager. The Tribunal accepted the conduct was unwanted and would have caused the employee distress and embarrassment, as the post would have been seen by friends and family.

This scenario illustrates why it is essential for an employer in this situation to have a clear policy on using social media in the workplace. If employees have been told clearly, what is and isn't acceptable conduct and what might happen if they cross the line, an employer can defend a claim like the one described much more easily, avoiding a costly award.

If you're an employee you need to be equally careful. Just because you're posting or messaging on a break using your phone, doesn't mean you won't be in breach of the staff internet policy. If you've connected with suppliers or customers you know well and your Facebook or Twitter account clearly identifies you as an employee, take care not to post controversial content. …

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