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The fine line between code of conduct and social media guidelines

Who is responsible for what you post on line, well the simple answer is you. You as an individual take full responsibility for what is posted on your personal social media platforms. But there is however, a fine line between employee code of conduct and social media guidelines. What do I mean? Well I can run a social media workshop, I can show you how to post, where to find the content, how to engage, offer best practice on messaging and how to connect with people.

But, these are guidelines, and I can simply suggest the best way to use each social platform.

Claire Roper, social media guidelines

This is where Human Resources step in, providing an employee code of conduct. This can then be incorporated into any social media training or workshops. Posting on social media in a business capacity when you representing your company should be viewed no differently than any other type of communication. Whether that is behaviour in the office, networking events, third party events, social events or even company sports teams.

“You need to assume that anything you post online could end up in your boss’ inbox.” Charles Thompson, Employment and Labour Lawyer, Burchell MacDougall LLP’s

Code of conduct should be led by Human Resources, with help from the social media team. Working together the two departments can produce a document and roll out social media training ensuring the same message is driven across the business.

Don’t think you’d be able to be fired because of a social media comment, think again:

Justine Sacco, the now infamous PR Executive at IAC, in 2013 ended her career with a tweet to her 170 followers. Before boarding a flight to South Africa, she tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!

Even though she only had a mere 170 followers, the tweet soon trended globally. She had no idea other twitter users were watching and waiting for plane to land and ultimately the end of her career. Justine landed to a series of messages, tweets, texts and emails, including an email from her manager, and as you guessed, she’d been fired. There are plenty of examples of being fired because of a social media post, but remember that being fired and loosing your job is bad, your reputation has also been tarnished. Your social media faux pax will be around forever for anyone to drag up again and again.

By Association

if you see something on social media which you feel is inappropriate and want to weigh in with your opinion, just take a step back and think how this will impact you. If you comment are you unintentionally breaking your employee code of conduct, just by simply including yourself in the conversation? Social Media is your personal brand, post wisely, because nothing is truly private when posted on line. Ensure you are aware of your companies code of conduct and make sure you read your employee contract!


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