Anthony DeRosa, social-media editor for Reuters news service says:
"Social media now is not an option, it's a necessity,"
"A couple of years ago that wasn't the case, but I think now people have to be a part of it, whether it's one social network or a couple of them."
What DeRosa is talking about is sharing content with those you work with and clients outside the business. It is essential to create an online persona for your organization via Twitter, Facebook, and/or countless others which are available. Today it is nearly impossible to avoid social networking if you want your business to grow.
But there is a downside to maintaining a presence in the public eye and there are many instances when an angry rant or differences of opinion have left organizations looking ugly in the eyes of the public.
Milwaukee attorney, Jesse Dill specializes in these kinds of issues and remarks on the subject of social networking for the workplace:
"You're seeing there's some value to it ... but it seems like every year something new is going to pop up that is going to catch employers' attention."
"It's so easy to start these profiles that a lot of people might not have thought right away [about] what are going to be some of the repercussions down the road."
I think many people are accustom to using social media for personal use, especially with sites like Facebook, but in the public sector there's a whole different decorum. DeRosa points out some aspects of social networking that employers should consider:
"Not everyone is cut out to use social media,"
"Some people just don't know how to handle themselves in public."
"[When] you have a platform where they can say things instantly and the world can see it, you're always running a risk that someone's going to say something stupid,"
"We try our best to lay out the guidelines and have the workshops, but it kind of comes down to common sense. There's not much more you can do than tell people not to be stupid."
Another concern for employers should be the increasing role Federal Government wants to play in regulating issues surrounding social networking Particularly the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Jesse Dill elaborates further on the delicate balance that has to be maintained by the employer:
"The employer has to be careful about their policy, but also how they react to an employee's posts."
"They (NLRB) seem to be drawing a line between employees complaining about the terms and conditions of their employment and employees just making personal gripes about their employers or the customers they serve,"
Employees have protection to express their views on company policies to coworkers but that cannot cross over into public criticism of the organization. Because it is a relatively new issue, there will be new issues arising all the time. Dill comments further on the unfolding issues with social networking in the workplace:
"As people start to pay attention to these issues -- to see what employees might be doing with the social media accounts -- then we'll see more issues identified,"