One of the things I’m noticing more and more these days is the reliance of businesses not only on Facebook, but on other social media networks as well. In fact, most companies are now relying on more than one social network at once.This allows for the companies to increase the reach of their communications beyond just the more traditional paper, phone, radio, and TV. And just like using more than one traditional media format allows for a broader reach, using more than one social network allows for a broader reach.
In having this broader reach businesses open themselves up to damage on a larger level as well. Unlike traditional media, social media allows for communication to a much larger audience at a much more rapid pace. A misstep in the social media world can be fatal to a company’s reputation.
Despite that, many companies now have employees who are engaged in social media for the purposes of the company. As often as employees have to run these social media posts by the company, many companies allow or even encourage employees to engage in social networks as agents of the company without supervision. These latter companies are often unaware of the one truth of the internet : once it’s out there, it’s there to stay. For these companies it is often a rude awakening that the less than perfect pot by an employee is now out there forever for anyone to find.
As a result many of those employers are getting smarter and asking for employees to at least run posts about the company by the company first. Other companies are going further – demanding employees turn over their social network passwords. Once again they are missing the central lesson – once the employee posts it, it’s out there. Smarter companies are asking for the employees to avoid posting about the company except through the moderated channels.
And then there are the companies that really just don’t get it. As this article shows,
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/12/30/south-carolina-company-sues-former-employee-over-twitter-followers/, some companies assume that the social network accounts of employees and former employees are company assets. What they really need to learn is not just the “it’s out there forever” lesson, but that employees using their personal social network accounts own those in much the same way as the employee owns his car or her house. If these companies don’t want those contact lists and follower lists to walk out the door, then they need to step up and perform the work as a corporate function rather than trying to appropriate property of employees.