The Downside of Firing Social Networkers
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According to the Des Moines Register, in the past year, several workers have been fired for posting unauthorized material to various social networks. The latest case involves a Casey's General Stores employee fired for posting material to YouTube. While the original postings were tame, after she was fired the employee posted a much more incendiary video to YouTube. While the repercussions of inappropriate material can be problematic, mishandling of the matter can cause the problem to snowball out of control. The key to managing company-related online activity by employees involves putting a plan in place before a problem arises.
Understanding social networks is a key first step. Not everything employees post online about your company is bad. Learn how proactive social networking can not only help identify potential public relations issues early, but can also promote your company. Once you have a handle on social networking, develop an employee policy relating to online activities which relate to your company. Employees are willing to refrain from certain online activities if you advise them of written policies up front. Reprimanding them after the fact can lead to problems.
Starting the discussion with employees will help identify people with a natural inclination toward online public relations. You may wish to enlist these individuals to monitor social networks, advising you of any potential threats or opportunities. Start slowly at first. Be prepared for problems. Running social networking point for your company is not for the online-illiterate. It may take even a social media maven weeks or months to find your company's social media "voice."
In additional to drafting a written policy regarding employees' online activity as it relates to your company, keep an open line of communication with your media savvy employees. Blindsiding employees for things they did years ago, or reprimanding them for things they believed were actually helping the company is a lose-lose scenario. Many times, rash action does nothing more than direct all of the employees social media moxy toward destroying your company's online reputation.