It is indisputable that, in this day and age, a company needs a method to communicate effectively with its employees. Some email a company newsletter, some publish news on an intranet, and some have adopted Facebook as a manner of communication. The use of social media in the workplace is a controversial topic because it brings up ethical and legal implications, but also allows a company to connect with employees and customers globally.
The policies put forth by various companies outline the implications through a series of guidelines, tips and regulations. Employees must be honest online. Employees must remember that they represent the company, even when outside the office. Many tell employees that they are not to discuss internal matters on social media. Most policies also give the friendly reminder that everything they publish is out there for the world to see.
Institutions regularly take the rules they develop surrounding people associated with the brand and social media very seriously. For example, Amanda Tatro was asked to leave the University of Minnesota’s nursing school after she posted on social media about the cadavers she learned from in her nursing classes. The university said the posts violated policies by exploiting the cadavers and the family members of the decreased.
Another example that is pointed to again and again the public relations world is the Justine Sacco twitter scandal. Before boarding a plane, Sacco tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Those 12 words cost Sacco her job by the time her plane landed. This is a staple example in the use of social media as a professional because it shows how detrimental a tweet – which must be under 140 characters by definition – can be.
Social media regulations are a necessity, considering that people naturally tend to generalize things; people generalize employees and employers. If employers did not put forth any type of guidelines, then they would not have a justification for reprimanding social media posts that sullied their reputation. Regulations regarding conduct on social media should not restrict voice, but promote decency on a public platform that benefit both the employees, the brand and society as a whole. It is not the worst thing in the world that companies call for their employees not to publish disrespectful or ignorant things on the internet.