Today on “Today’s THV This Morning,” I sat down with Charles Crowson (who tweets @CCrowson016) to talk about what can happen when your Twitter life affects your work life. Or, rather, when you say something stupid on Twitter and your boss finds out.
Just as users are having to learn to watch what they post on Facebook, MySpace and blogs, so too are they having to be more careful about what they say on the fast-growing microblogging service. Twitter’s very nature — a quick, easy-to-use service that allows you to post stream-of-conscience thoughts almost as a reflex via desktop and mobile platforms — lends itself to accidental misuse. And once you say something on the Internet, it’s hard to take it back.
Careerbuilder.com has numerous examples of workplace horror stories stemming from Twitter misuse. In that vein, I offered some simple do’s and don’t for professionals who use Twitter to help them avoid such workplace gaffes.
1) Bad-mouth co-workers or your company – Lots of people mistake the Web as a place to vent. But it’s simply not professional to go online and rip your boss, your co-workers and your employer. Even though these people might not be your Twitter followers, they can see your updates by going to your Twitter.com account. And even if you’ve protected your updates to followers only, there’s always the risk that what you say in the heat of the moment could be retweeted.
2) Complain about your the specifics of your job – We all have boring aspects of our jobs, and everyone has a bad day every once in a while. But again, your tweets can reflect poorly on your employer. If you want to stay employed, you’ll want to keep those feelings in check.
3) Talk about your salary, good or bad – Just as you wouldn’t talk about your raise in front of a co-worker, you shouldn’t brag about that bump in pay you just got. At the same, hard as it might be, refrain from gripes about salary or benefits cuts.
4) Conduct a job search out in the open – As great as social networks and Twitter can be in the job hunt, be careful about openly inquiring about new jobs at other companies, unless you want to be outed early and possibly dismissed before you’re ready to make a switch.
5) Overshare personal tidbits that could reflect poorly on your company – It’s probably not a good idea to talk about how drunk you got last night. And watch those late-night postings to Twitpic that might not seem so funny the morning after.
After the jump, some suggestions about what to do to keep your personal and professional lives in harmony on Twitter.
1) Decide on your Twitter goals and act accordingly – Decide early on why you’re on Twitter. Are you branding yourself, your company? Are you wanting to keep up with people, groups and news in your industry? Or are you on their for social reasons? Thinking through this will help you decide the types of things you broadcast on Twitter.
2) Consider personal and professional Twitter profiles – This might seem ridiculous, but it’s common, and it helps you target your tweets to the appropriate audience. Services like TweetDeck allow you to easily manage multiple Twitter accounts, so personal items can go to one account, and more professional content can flow through another.
3) Ask about any company social media policies and follow them – More and more companies in the media industry and beyond are starting to develop specific policies around employees’ use of social networks, often putting limits on when employees can use social networks, how they use them and what types of content they can produce. It would be smart to ask your company about what those policies are.
4) Find a voice and stick to it – What type of content will you share with your followers? What is the tone of your tweets? How often will you tweet? Will you be funny, serious, ironic, straightforward? Thinking about your “Twitter persona” will help you define boundaries and help you create better content.
5) Remember: The Internet never forgets – Thanks to Google, everything you’ve every posted to Twitter is searchable — often including the things you thought you deleted. Keep this in mind each and every time your tweet.
To me, the key to social media, blogging, Twitter, whatever, is to create some kind of value for your followers and engage them in a smart, personable and respectful manner. You might also tweet as if your mother — or your employer — is standing over your shoulder watching. Because often, they are virtually doing just that.
Do you have any other Twitter tips you’d like to share? And does your employer have a social media policy? If so, what’s it like? How far does it go? Let us know in comments.
(And remember: You can follow me on Twitter @LT.)
10 Must-haves For Your Social Media Policy – Mashable
Lawsuits and PR Nightmares: Why Employees Need Social Media Guidelines – Search Engine Journal
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