Just like the rest of the planet, you have a hard time tearing yourself away from your Twitter account and your Facebook timeline, but there are times when a little distance and discretion may be necessary. If you are blending your time on social media sites with your work life, either by "friending" co-workers or tweeting from your desk, there are a few things you need to consider to make sure you are not jeopardizing your job.
Before you enter into social media sharing with anyone make sure you find out if your workplace has any policies regarding social media. This is especially important if you are in education or an area where you are seeing clients confidentially. There may be rules in place about whether or not you can "friend" current or former students or engage with clients outside of your workday and violating these rules is often grounds for termination.
Even though your boss sent you a friend request or your co-worker decided to follow you on Twitter, that doesn't always mean it is the best idea. Before accepting their request or allowing them to see your tweets, think about the content that you discuss, whether it is something you are comfortable with them reading and whether you want to add them to that social aspect of your life. This also applies if you are job hunting. "When companies look to work with someone, they will most certainly look at their social media profiles. Every Facebook post, tweet, etc., that you put out there is a representation of your personal brand," says Ashley Abele, social media consultant for Other Half Media.
Once you know your co-workers or clients may be following along make sure you think about what you say before you say it. Do not share information that could, in any way, be seen as private company information. Also, think about when and where you are posting to social networks. "People need to remember that what they put online is part of their reputation," says Abele. If the majority of your Facebook updates are made during the workday, it is not difficult for your boss to put the pieces together and realize that you are not giving 100 percent to your job.
If it feels impossible to maintain any form of social media presence because of the job that you hold, there are options available for you. You can consider having a Facebook account with very limited contacts, adding only friends and family and selecting the option in your account that allows your updates and pictures to only be seen by your "friends." If you would like to use Twitter, you can chose to lock your account so that only those you agree to let follow you can see your tweets.
Above all, think before you tweet, post or share to any form of social media. You never know who is reading and how your personal actions can affect your professional life.
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