It was reported in the Sunday Times (February 27, 2011) that rugby commentator Andrew Lanning really tweeted up after sending a post to Twitter which was supposed to be confidential. As a result he was axed by DStv channel SuperSport.
What he tweeted is not germane to this article. However, he is on a growing list of people to have tweeted up and sent something about the organisation they represent that it would rather not have in the public domain.
Sending inappropriate information out on social media including Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, You Tube and the like is going to increase. Organisations assume that their employees know better and will have the common sense not to deride the organisation or divulge confidential information.
Unfortunately, if one looks at the social media gene pool, we’re often not dealing with the brightest and best or most ethical (check out how much time some employees spend on social media in work hours and you’ll know what I mean):
- People will criticise their bosses on Facebook for the whole world to see and don’t understand the issue (in working time)
- Some tweet every minutia of their boring existence right down to their toilet habits
- Some will argue with their friends in the most profane manner in open forum and not take it to an email or better yet, a face-to-face meeting
- Some will post pictures of themselves on a drunken binge on social media sites not taking into account the consequences of these actions. Can be kinda career limiting
- People will behave badly and other people will take photos or videos of them and post them
- Some think they are the next Wikileak and will post confidential information in open forum
So, what to do?
- Don’t assume that all employees have common sense and understand loyalty to an organisation
- Have a formal (and simple) code of conduct for social media activities as it pertains to the organisation
- The code of conduct has to be communicated to and signed off by all employees
- Consequences for breaking the code of conduct should be clear and not left to interpretation
If you’d like a Social Media Code of Conduct template, send me an email with “Social Media Code of Conduct” in the title and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the PDF document.