Friday, January 13, 2012

Social Network Security, Privacy and Productivity

Social Networking interacts with nearly every aspect of our lives today.  The average American spends over 16 hours a month on Facebook with 50% of Facebook users logging on every single day.  Social Networks are used at the office and in personal life although it is sometimes best to keep the two separate. 

When our company receives an application or email for employment the first thing we do is look up the individual on Facebook and other social networks to see exactly who they are.  We have brought on interns based upon their wide use of social networks with positive posts while we have also decided not to interview people based upon what they posted on social networks.  Employers, co-workers, friends and family are using social networking though not everything posted online should be shared with all of them.

One thing our company does to ensure our staff is on top of the latest online marketing, social networking and interaction is creation of 'Business' social networking accounts.  Each new team member is setup with a company email address ( which is then used to create a complete set of social networking accounts for each individual.  The accounts are links to our company social marketing pages, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and customer accounts.  The staff is asked to login a few times each week to interact, read, learn and communicate with other staff, industry news and customers.

This ensures that the business has a wider reach online while maintaining a consistent online presence for the staff to interact with clients, potential customers and each other in a professional fashion.  Personal accounts are not tied with the business accounts and there is less of a chance of someone being offended or alienated from a personal event unrelated to the company.  The Business accounts are not 'friends' with personal accounts or non-business related individuals to ensure the privacy of the staff and keep any potential fires from starting. 

A few ideas for maintaining privacy and ensuring there are no issues with Social Networking at the office include:
  • Lock down your Personal profilesAvoid friending anyone from work including your co-workers or boss - use your Business profile to communicate and interact with them.  Take advantage of the privacy features within Facebook and create lists keeping unwanted visitors away from private photos, tagged posts and information. 
  • Private messages are not private
    When it comes to the workplace and the world of employment law, private messages on social networking sites are discoverable in court.  This means that messages between friends and colleagues on social networks can be used as part of the legal investigation process.  These messages are electronic conversations similar to e-mail and are being treated as such.
  • Don’t trust Facebook or other Social NetworksFacebook has been known for their privacy issues in the past, and yet we, as individuals, place blind faith in a company who often holds the very key to our digital life.  Avoid providing very personal information including your date of birth, religious information, or other protected topics that companies can use when making employment decision like hiring, promotions or salary increases in the United States.  This information, known as protected classes (age, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, race/color, and nation of origin), may not be used by employers to make employment decisions, although this information is easily accessible via personal social media profiles like Facebook. Companies are increasingly using social media as a form of an online background check.
  • Read your social media policy
    Companies are adding social media policies to their employee manuals.  Take the time to read the policy and understand the guidelines they have put in place.  Use common sense, if you have an issue with the company you work with, a customer or a co-worker DO NOT publicize that information online where it may come back to haunt you. 
  • Not everything you read online is a FACT
    Anyone can post anything on the Internet.  Just because you find a profile or information about someone, a business it may not be a fact.  There are countless cases of people impersonating others such as sports stars, celebrates, business executives and even neighbors to generate traffic, obtain 'friends' or market on the Internet.  Anyone with Internet Access can create a profile using any name and post information so be cautious in what you believe or how you may use information found on the Internet because it may not be true.  Sometimes this is done in fun, for marketing or to slander or harm others so be cautious.
Contact Internet Builder Consulting Social Marketing Experts for a consultation on your company social networking policy, Social Marketing, websites or Search Engine Optimization today at 816-842-7774

Robert 'Dot Com' Jackson
Internet Builder Consulting - Building BETTER Websites, Social Marketing & SEO solutions since 1995

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