Anti-social media
Companies need to be better than the BBC in social media policy

The BBC seems to be in a bit of a muddle regarding social media use for staff, according to politics site Guido Fawkes. Business Editor Robert Peston cracked a sexual joke about the Royal Wedding and was asked to remove the joke, which he did (you can see what the gag was here). And it’s not the first time the BBC has had problems with Twitter.

Now you can read Guido’s article as BBC bashing but it does have a fair point – are the feeds the staff post on personal or private? Apparently, they are private. In which case, does the BBC have a right to censor it?

What’s the lesson here for businesses in Scotland and elsewhere thinking of social media?

The BBC guidelines for social media state that private is private and work is work but in this case it appears there’s been a case of cake and eating it because the Twitter stream is said to be private but Peston uses it mostly for work. And the BBC’s quite happy to link to it for his insight. And that’s fine until you have moments like this where the workplace doesn’t like an individual tweet. (Peston’s web editor must be an Arsenal fan, otherwise this would be off the web as well.)

Now the BBC will get away with this – it’s not going to sack one of it’s big hitters and he’s not going to quit over the principle of it – but other people in other organisations won’t be so lucky.

And that’s why companies should have social media usage policies – to protect the individuals as much as the companies.

Twitter/Facebook advice for employees who use social media

Don’t mix and match. Have one account for work and one for fun. On the one for fun don’t identify where you work, keep it to the personal stuff. Similarly, don’t use your work email account or social media streams (including blogs) for passing on jokes, cooking recipes or anything that is not work-related. If you do feel the need to mix and match, get written permissiom from HR before doing so.

And of course, make sure your workplace has a proper social media usage policy in place so you know what can be posted and what cannot – protect yourself.

Twitter/Facebook advice for companies

If your staff use social media – at home or work – have policies drawn up stating what is and isn’t acceptable. If you think it’s OK for staff to have personal accounts, decide if you want them to mention work or if you would prefer that they didn’t. If you want to use their personal accounts to help promote the company, ask yourself if it wouldn’t be safer to have work-only accounts.

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