Q: I run a recruitment business and we are increasingly using LinkedIn to identify potential candidates. On the flip side however I am concerned about the potential risks of staff commenting on issues, in their capacity as my employees, on social networking sites. What should I do?
A: You’ve got to view this as a communications policy issue and not one that is particular to your company’s use of social networking sites alone. If you have a policy in place then it probably authorises only a select few of your staff to speak about or publish their thoughts or opinions in traditional media.
The logical step might be to expand the policy’s wording to include open social networks within your definition of these media channels. There have been some examples of unauthorised discussions across LinkedIn Groups or networking between individuals on Twitter which have caused damage to brand integrity, particularly as the latter is fully indexed on search engines.
Of course, we are all becoming used to communicating across numerous platforms and it might be that you have no inclination to become bogged down in a lengthy comment approvals process for every one of your employees’ tweets or likes. However, they must be made aware that their actions will have consequences.
Just as you would rightly demand the correct behaviour from them whilst networking in a physical environment, so should you in the online world. Business people should be encouraged to communicate in social networks, but always remember who they are and who they work for.
A business journalist by trade, Ralph Savage represents a series of B2B clients on media and marketing matters. He provides strategic PR advice, media training and consultancy. He also ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, accountants and brokers.