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Archive for March, 2012

Certainly, the extent of regulation of employee speech is largely dependent on and varies according to their career. For example, a CEO of a prominent company may face stricter regulations of their social media posts than a radio show personality or a celebrity. An employee’s code of conduct online is dependent on how much their personality must reflect the company and/or brand. Celebrities can get away with posting more controversial or unethical content online if it coincides with their brand image (see Jim Gaffigan’s Twitter). On the other hand, CEOs are the face of the company, and must maintain a professional image at all times.

Other issues involve employees recklessly endangering the confidentiality of a company through unethical posts, which can tarnish a company’s public image. For this reason, guidelines (which for the most part are actually very strict, and can result in job termination) were established to make employees aware of company expectations and consequences of failing to follow a company’s code of online conduct.

Personally, I don’t disagree with a minimal use of social media during company time. Social media has become so integrated and integral to society’s daily routine that its absence is almost as debilitating as revoking employee cell phone rights during work. In addition, social media’s multi-faceted nature provides employees with useful resources that may help them with their work. Also, it is arguably the best way to keep updated on news and trends, especially those that pertain to employee interests and work. As long as social media use is regulated and not used excessively, using social media on company time is acceptable.

From the company social media guidelines that I perused, I noticed most of the companies were accepting of employees utilizing social media sites, as long as it did not tarnish the company’s image or violate confidentiality. However, companies largely made employees solely responsible for their content posted online. Reuters even mentioned that if an altercation was encountered online to not be overtly defensive and seek lawyer assistance. In addition, some content was strictly taboo, including legal matters, stock prices, competitors, company strategy, rumors and not to speak on the company’s behalf, but to seek the company’s spokesperson (otherwise resulting in job termination).

Coca-Cola reflected similar sentiments regarding social media employee regulations; however they included a peculiar request of its employees. Coca-Cola advocates for its employees to be “scouts” for compliments and criticism of its products on social media sites. When employees find compliments/criticism, they are to send them to online.relations@na.ko.com. This is an interesting request, because while Coca-Cola advocates transparency, it also advocates for its employees to “scout out” Facebook pages mentioning Coca-Cola using their own personal pages. This seems contradictory because Coca-Cola’s employees are not allowed to speak on the company’s behalf; however, they are allowed to “scout” pages on the company’s behalf under the guise of their personal pages.

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