How to manage social media use in the office

Monday, May 19th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

The rise of social media is a double-edged sword for many businesses in America today. The Facebook and Twitter platforms offer a unique opportunity to reach individual customers. Moreover, the information collected from customer profiles has increased the usefulness of big-data analytics and bolstered customer relations management.

Social media sites are some of the most cost-effective means of reaching your customers, and are quickly becoming the first place a customer visits to learn more about your company. However, the misuse of social media can have significant consequences for employees.

Take for example the experience of once-respected public-relations maven Justine Sacco. In December, just before boarding a flight to South Africa, Sacco tweeted "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" By the time the plane touched down, her employer, Inter­­Active Corp, was dealing with a public relations firestorm, and Sacco was fired. 

Sacco's experience serves as a sobering reminder about the power of social media. Project managers should be sure that their team members are aware of the potential for harm, and how their actions could unwittingly damage the company.

According to a recent report by international finance firm Proskauer Rose LLP, 81 percent of managers report that they "foresee the misuse of social media by employees becoming more of any issue in the future." When contrasted with the fact that only 37.5 percent of managers have provided any training on the appropriate use of the platform, managers are right to be worried.

Project managers should train their team members to ask, "is this message aligned with my values?" and, "Could this be taken the wrong way?" before tweeting or posting anything that could reflect badly on the company. One misunderstood message is not worth the potential damage to a company—and could cost a career

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