With Social Media Comes Responsibility

I know I have noted in this blog in the past that FaceTime Communications is a client. And they are doing genuinely cool stuff. They are securing online conversations, making it possible for companies to filter and record your activities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, and other public social media sites, assuming you are accessing those sites from within your corporate network.

Some consider such activity as being akin to Big Brother, logging your every move online and trying to track down corporate time wasters. But consider that every move you make online is a reflection of your employer, and the watchdogs are watching the corporate watchers,  so they need to track your activity online in order to protect their business. These days, everything has to be tracked, logged, and recoverable in the event of an audit. And your innocent posts to Facebook or LinkedIn could contribute to the downfall of your employer, whether you like it or not. Consider the ambitious sales rep who asks his LinkedIn contacts for help with a secret competitive bid, or the excited guy in the mailroom who posts to Facebook that the head of sales for his publicly traded company just left the company. Seemingly innocent posts that actually can be harmful data leaks. Someone has to monitor the public conversation to make sure that private information remains private.

Not long ago I spotted a most insightful example from Ted Ritter of one of my favorite analyst firms, Nemertes Research. Here’s the scenario Ted paints, which is not so farfetched:

You’ve just arrived in Melbourne for a business trip. While heading to the hotel, you update your MyLinkedBook status page to announce your arrival. Pretty innocuous, right? Well, it turns out that one of your followers is a TechTarget reporter who suspects you’re involved in M&A activity, and this seemingly innocent update has just fueled the rumor that your company is buying Spaceley Sprockets out of Melbourne. Welcome to the world of social networking! It is the next wave of enterprise online collaboration, and the best way for HR and compliance to get out in front of the wave is with a risk-based approach.

So you have to be careful about your online activity because whatever you post online is very public. Remember that you what you post is not only a reflection of your personal brand, but also your employer. And the Web has a long memory. (It amazes me that today’s teenagers don’t realize that those drunken Facebook pictures they post today will follow them to their next job interview.)

So when promoting your online brand, practice common sense and self-restraint. Think before you post. Even if your company is not watching your every move online, you should be practicing self-censorship and remain wary of what you blog about or what you post as your current status. You never know when what you post online could come to back to bite you, or someone else.

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