5 Ways to Separate Your Work and Play Online
You get angry at a friend. Next thing you know you’re sending them an angry post on Facebook. Eventually the two of you patch things up. But send an angry Facebook post to a co-worker? That could get you so “unliked” by higher ups that your job could be in trouble.
The same goes for Tweeting about your boss in what might seem like an innocent way. If someone reads it the wrong way, it could really haunt you.
These are some of the social media slip-ups that could hurt you at work. Are you guilty of abusing social media in ways that could sabotage your job? Here are 5 simple ways to make sure you’re practicing safe cyber.
1. Read The Employee Manual
Many workplaces, especially larger ones, have developed a social media usage policy for employees. It‘s probably published on the company’s private intranet. Take a quick look at it to see the basic guidelines.
In particular, check for behaviours that are either discouraged or forbidden. Some of the things you do as part of your normal, personal routine – like using slang expressions, or emoticons – may not be allowed on your company social media accounts.
2. Haters, Bite Your Tongues (or Chew Off Your Input Fingers)
Your job is not the place to show your angry side. We all get frustrated at some point or another. Pressures can build up and you may crave release. But venting about your job on social media (even a little bit) is a bad idea.
Even if you set your privacy settings at the highest level. All you need is one of your trusted followers to leak your rant. Try stuffing that genie back into the bottle. It isn’t easy to clean up your digital dirt!
3. Don’t Use Work Time For Personal Social Media
Ever get one of those hilarious photos sent to you via e-mail at work? Yeah, the cat fast asleep on a dog’s head. Or of someone “owling” on a staircase. Funny stuff. But if you take even 60 seconds during the workday to upload that photo to your personal Flickr account, you’re guilty of stealing time from your employer.
Similarly for your personal Facebook updates or Tweets. Employers can track your keystrokes and downloads at work if they want to. They may be so put off that even flashing that cutesie cat photo won’t stop them from firing you. Save your playtime postings for after work.
4. Don’t Use Work Equipment For Personal Social Media
This tidbit goes hand in hand with Tip 3 above. It applies if you have a smartphone or laptop provided to you by your company. Sooner or later you’ll want to goof around on that borrowed equipment.
Guess what: anything you do on that gear gets recorded automatically. You may also be tracked remotely by the employer – in real-time. That’s right, all those copyrighted MP3’s you download withou paying for. And those, ahem, questionable videos you might view. This is true whether you’re on worktime or your personal hours.
Think you’ve found a file shredding program that’ll cover your tracks? Or anonymizing software to hide which websites you visit? Then you haven’t been keeping up on the latest in commercial-strength data recovery. Keep it clean and respect your company’s property. If you don’t, it might be a career limiting move.
5. Stick To Business On Your Workplace Social Networks
Your employer wants to use social media as a strategic communications tool. You may be practiced in using it only for fun. So remember that when using accounts provided by your employer, you’re actually a representative of your company.
This doesn’t necessarily mean stifling your personality. There’s still lots of room for creative expression. It’s just that whenever you post a comment, image, link, or video for work, keep the following question in mind: “How will this reflect on my employer?”
When in doubt, check with your boss or colleagues. Or check that Social Media Usage Manual from back in Tip 1. Otherwise find something else to post about. When it comes to social media and your workplace, it’s better to be safe than cyber-sorry.