Use of company social networks and other accounts…
We're into really sensitive territory now. If you have access to accounts that are company ones, or are publicly representing the company on the internet, you have to abide by some very careful rules. One is Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You.
Tell the truth, tell the whole truth about what you tell and ensure you keep it positive.
I know that probably sounds pretty obvious, however there's an enormous amount of trust that is placed in you if you have access to company social media. You are suddenly the voice and face of the company. Before the uptake of social media, companies used to have a very strong media policy… if you were contacted by the press or media, you had to keep your mouth shut and divert their attention to one central person or department.
There's a really good reason for this, and that is that any tiny thing you say, taken out of proportion or context, is likely to be used against the company in a negative way. So you have to be careful here…
Luckily, with social media, it's more difficult to be misquoted, because the original exists as your proof, however it's still important to consider what you are saying. The rub here is that if you can get this right, you're going to get your work ethic and attitude right too and everything helps everything else.
- If you intend to say something negative, then don't. Really, it's that simple. You spot a negative by the words: not, can't, don't, won't, haven't etc. Find a way of turning it around to something positive. "We're working on ways to improve this system" rather than, "We're aware it's not working correctly and are fixing the problem".
- A problem must become a challenge and also must have a creative solution.
- Really consider how your words might be taken. Imagine the difference between, "Landed a big client and now have to find some people to do the work, anyone know a good ____" and "Picked up a major piece of work, everyone is focused and we're lining up the key team members. If you know anyone who might add a little something, let us know."
- Make sure that you know exactly what your users are seeing – what their experience of your social media is. There's a major food delivery company in the UK who's twitter stream is full of the following: "I'm sorry that you've found our service lacking, please contact customer services…" Now if you look at them on twitter, that's all you see. Doesn't create a good image… they aren't retweeting the positive comments so they show up in the stream to, they just say thanks. To be honest, it looks awful – my overall impression is that people find their service lacking. My experience of them is quite the opposite!
- Never ever ever ever ever ever make it personal… ever! Ok, maybe if you have a company blog account and they want you to talk about yourself, then that's ok! But only then! You must bring yourself into your posts, but not talking about yourself, just your style, humour, personality etc.
At the end of the day, I'm aware that for most people, they don't consider this stuff an issue. And for most of them, they are probably right… for the time being. At some point, you will have to think about this, maybe it will be after someone you know loses their job over something they've done that they probably ought not to have done. Or you might choose not to wait that long!