Social Media – Blessing and Curse

You may have seen in the news recently a story about the business social media site, LinkedIn. A male solicitor complimented a female barrister on her LinkedIn profile picture. The barrister took umbrage and called his email misogynistic. The resulting furore has resulted in a lot of publicity for the barrister, has resulted in a lot of comments on TV, radio and internet (and social media of course). This just shows how one comment can become big news.

One of the features of social media is its immediacy and freshness. However, by its nature that tends to mean that the brain isn’t always fully engaged when posting or tweeting something, which can result in embarrassment for individuals, and a PR disaster for businesses. The paradox is that whilst social media often depends on spontaneity, it also can be a very permanent record. I am surprised by how much information people put on Facebook, etc. Employers (and prospective employers) definitely look at Facebook, etc. for background information on (prospective) staff.

For many businesses, social media is an important part of their image and reputation. For those businesses, it is well worth thinking about a well drafted social media policy for staff. This policy can cover personal use of social media by employees, and what use of social media should be prohibited, and include guidelines for responsible use of social media. To be fair, such a policy may not have prevented the LinkedIn story, but it can set parameters, and avoid some of the obvious pitfalls.

David Park is a Chamber Director and Partner at Oglethorpe Sturton and Gillibrand

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