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Managing Social Media at the Office

Published on 21 January 15
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Social media, whether you are referring to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other networks, can be a boon to business or sources of headaches and nightmares. Itâs a common idea that employees spend all day goofing off when they have access to those tools, and while some may do so, that ignores the employees using the media properly. Many a sales rep has used LinkedIn to find new leads, and Marketing practically requires Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other services to thrive in todayâs world. The debate can rage on as to whether to limit access or block it entirely for all employees who donât have a specific business need, but the fact remains that social media is here to stay. However, there are a few things that everyone should know when using the networks to prevent the company from getting egg on its face.

The important thing to remember about social media is that, by the very nature of it, news will spread like wild fire, especially if it is something that is scandalous or considered interesting. You might need to work hard to spread the word out about your new widgets, but if something posts online that they hate working with a certain vendor, and that employee has ties to the work place in their account, then you will likely have an unpleasant conversation with that vendor AT BEST. At worst, you might have bickering and insulted social media users attacking your web pages as well as the offending employee, which in extreme cases may attract even more severe attackers with more malicious intent in mind. We mentioned a vendor earlier, but there are dozens if not hundreds of things that an employee could post that would cause nightmares. To circumvent, it is highly recommended that a social media policy be in place for employees to educate them not to do such things, or if they do so to be aware that disciplinary action may follow. Of course, the policy could also be to block employees from using certain websites, which can be achieved by using a firewall that supports application control as a feature.

Aside from education about the actual use of social media, it is prudent to have the same conversation about strong passwords that you should have with any other tool that could potentially impact the business. It might be different kinds of bad if someone hacks into an employeeâs Facebook versus the companyâs payroll system, but an attack on their Facebook can be just as agonizing. The account can turn into a spam bot, irritating potential prospects or worse the hacker can post negative information about the company from a source that appears to be the company. There are many ways employees can secure their personal accounts â make sure they are aware of them, and as an added bonus they will do a better job protecting work accounts as well.

Finally, understand the goal, not only of the company but of the employee. Employees might be using social media to send cat pictures, but they may also have a very useful business application for using social media. There are certainly reasons why you would want to restrict usage of the platforms - if you have a business grade firewall in place, you have the technology in your office right now - but everything needs to be weighed as a whole. Perhaps there is a larger client you never would have sold to had the sales team not connected in LinkedIn, for example. So long as you have made preparations to handle any possible issues that might come up from hackers or employees posting before thinking, there is a lot of good that can come from social media. Just make sure everyone is on the same page for corporate communications.
Social media, whether you are referring to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other networks, can be a boon to business or sources of headaches and nightmares. Itâs a common idea that employees spend all day goofing off when they have access to those tools, and while some may do so, that ignores the employees using the media properly. Many a sales rep has used LinkedIn to find new leads, and Marketing practically requires Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other services to thrive in todayâs world. The debate can rage on as to whether to limit access or block it entirely for all employees who donât have a specific business need, but the fact remains that social media is here to stay. However, there are a few things that everyone should know when using the networks to prevent the company from getting egg on its face.

The important thing to remember about social media is that, by the very nature of it, news will spread like wild fire, especially if it is something that is scandalous or considered interesting. You might need to work hard to spread the word out about your new widgets, but if something posts online that they hate working with a certain vendor, and that employee has ties to the work place in their account, then you will likely have an unpleasant conversation with that vendor AT BEST. At worst, you might have bickering and insulted social media users attacking your web pages as well as the offending employee, which in extreme cases may attract even more severe attackers with more malicious intent in mind. We mentioned a vendor earlier, but there are dozens if not hundreds of things that an employee could post that would cause nightmares. To circumvent, it is highly recommended that a social media policy be in place for employees to educate them not to do such things, or if they do so to be aware that disciplinary action may follow. Of course, the policy could also be to block employees from using certain websites, which can be achieved by using a firewall that supports application control as a feature.

Aside from education about the actual use of social media, it is prudent to have the same conversation about strong passwords that you should have with any other tool that could potentially impact the business. It might be different kinds of bad if someone hacks into an employeeâs Facebook versus the companyâs payroll system, but an attack on their Facebook can be just as agonizing. The account can turn into a spam bot, irritating potential prospects or worse the hacker can post negative information about the company from a source that appears to be the company. There are many ways employees can secure their personal accounts â make sure they are aware of them, and as an added bonus they will do a better job protecting work accounts as well.

Finally, understand the goal, not only of the company but of the employee. Employees might be using social media to send cat pictures, but they may also have a very useful business application for using social media. There are certainly reasons why you would want to restrict usage of the platforms - if you have a business grade firewall in place, you have the technology in your office right now - but everything needs to be weighed as a whole. Perhaps there is a larger client you never would have sold to had the sales team not connected in LinkedIn, for example. So long as you have made preparations to handle any possible issues that might come up from hackers or employees posting before thinking, there is a lot of good that can come from social media. Just make sure everyone is on the same page for corporate communications.

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