Social Media Impacts The Trust of People Not In Our Digital Networks

03/26/2012

Computer woman _2
Sometimes the smart people can be the most naive when it comes to social media and social networks.

In the post I wrote on employee personal branding I offered the premise that an employee's digital personae will likely be affilated with their employee's brand during, as well as after, employment ends. Hold that thought please.

When I teach, especially social media workshops, I make every attempt to create what I call a "social media offline environment." As with social media online, although I have material to present, listening and sharing play important roles. Adults learn best from peer-to-peer interaction and people are generous to share their own lessons learned.

I want to pass along a story that a participant, a small business owner, shared of how she discovered one of her managment employees felt his job was boring and un-challenging. Let's call the business owner Ruth and the employee Bert.

To frame this, the guy was in his early thirties and not at the beginning of his career path. He had been using Facebook, Twitter and LInkedIn for personal and professional use for several years. One afternoon at work, he dropped a seemingly innocent remark on his Facebook wall (privacy setting set to allow friends only) that he was bored with his job and was looking for a new position. 

You can easily connect the series of dots and dashes. A "friend" who wanted to be helpful to his friend's job search efforts, copied the update and sent it to someone who sent it to someone who sent it to the business owner.

As Ruth told our class, sometimes the best intentions of placing what you think is the right person in the right position just don't work. When she read Bert's post she had a lot of emotions. She was angry. She felt betrayed. She also was concerned about the perceptions people might have of the company, as well as, the job that she would sooner than later have to fill. 

Her company was a small business where she tried to create a trusting environment. Evidently Bert didn't feel comfortable discussing his concerns with his manager or even with her. Ruth was at a cross road at how to handle the sitution. Was she not utilizing Bert's capabilities? Should she find another opportunity for him? Hop over to MSN On Main for some ideas on how to identify "diamond in the rough employees" that you may be overlooking. 

As our in class discussion continued, it was became more obvious that the bigger issue for Ruth was the trust that she felt had been broken. In social media we talk a lot about building trust in the digital world. However, sometimes we forget that trusted relationships are continuously being played out in on-line public forums. We can impact people (and organizations) casually mentioned in a tweet, update or even a pin. Often these people don't belong to our merry band of of Follwers, Likes, Friends, Connects, Pinees, or well .. you get the idea.

In this situation we have three smart people who were naive about the impact of social media. Bert of course. Ruth who should have offered training and established guidelines to her staff. The third is Bert's friend who was only trying to help find a a pal a new job. 

Lessons Learned: There are no gated communities on-line. Don't post what you don't want passed along. Employers it is critical to teach your employees good social media/networking etiquette and periodically remind them of your corporate guidelines.

You do have social media/networking guidelines? Excellent! I knew you did. Just in case you want to freshen them up .. here's a post with links to many examples.

I left off the ending purposely. Wondering how would you handle the situation?

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MSN Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Graphic credit: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comments

Very timely article. Employers also need to realise that even if they aren't using social media (which begs the question why not?), they still need to have a social media policy in place.
2 key reasons & links to resources in my own recent post on this at:
http://www.incontextfinance.com/1996/are-you-managing-social-media-risks-in-your-business


Posted by: Siu Ling on Mar 27, 2012 10:02:45 PM

Good article, written in a way people will find easy to absorb.
It's interesting how 'bar stool' conversations have the potential to be more public than people appreciate. There's a need to educate employers about the pitfalls of not having a social media policy in place for employee use of social media both while at work and in their personal lives.
I'll use this example in my work with businesses. Thanks.

Posted by: Susan Collini on Apr 3, 2012 3:04:26 AM

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