|  March 25 2010  |   Blog   |   0 COMMENTS

When I first started with social media about six years ago, I did not think it would be a big hype. I made a profile on Hyves because my friends and family had one, and I thought it was a nice platform to host my photo albums. But I never really used it, only my name was visible and there was a lack of information about me – no favorite movies or music, just my name. I was raised in a very small country (slightly less than twice the size of the state of New Jersey), so it was never necessary to stay in touch through a social media platform.  At home I see my friends and family on a daily base, because we are not far away from each other.

Nowadays, social media is also used for networking in the business world. But how distinct is the separation between personal and business in social media? And how should we determine that separation? We already know LinkedIn is mainly used for business networking purposes, but what about Twitter and Facebook? Many companies are using Facebook and Twitter to communicate and stay in touch with clients, but most of the time we are also using our personal accounts for clients. This means that if we send a Tweet or write on a friend’s Facebook wall, it will be visible for clients and maybe even competitors. Is this bad or not?

I read an article today about social media policies in the office. The article sums up a couple of “rules” according to using social media for business purposes:

1. When employees are using social media tools for personal use, they should not use any company trademarks (identifying logos, names), or copyrights in any manner.

2.  Employees should never hold themselves out as a representative of the company, unless they have received express permission from legal and management to do so.

3. Employees should never disclose or discuss company confidential, trade secrets, or other propriety company information on Social Media platforms.

4. When using Social Media platforms, employees should never engage in false, inappropriate, threatening, harassing, or defaming conduct that would be harmful to the company, employees, or damage company relationships.

5. Employees should be aware that when using Social Media tools at work, the employer has a right to view and monitor Social Media use even if the employee is using their personal Social Media accounts.

So it looks like the article is suggesting that we should make two accounts, one for personal and one for business use. However, in my opinion the power of social media lies in the fact that you can get a sneak peek into somebody’s personal life. I used to say that social media is taking away the personal factor in doing business and networking, but, actually, you are able to better find out who a person is behind the company position, without even communicating with that person, which may help in the preparation for a meeting or negotiation.

I’m just wondering what the future will bring, will there be an addition to the company rules named “using social media at the office?” Or will we continue with our personal accounts so that our clients are able to peak in our personal lives? And if so, will this affect business in a negative way?

By Mick van Est

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