‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; what happens on social media, stays on Google forever‘ – Jure Klepic
Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Think about this: how many times have you already opened your Instagram app today? When last did you receive an actual SMS from a friend and not a WhatsApp message?
Did you know that 90% of employers will Google your name, open your Facebook page, check out your LinkedIn credentials, look at the pictures that you’ve posted on Instagram and see what you’ve retweeted on Twitter before even considering calling you for an interview?
Yup. It’s a scary thought. Ergo, your online reputation is super-important!
You are responsible for what you post online, and although social media has its obvious pros, everything that you post (the good and the bad) may become a permanent reflection of you and, while employed, the company that you work for.
With advice from the social media law gurus at Dingley Marshall Inc. we would like to help you with a few pointers on the dos and don’ts of social media in the workplace, as well as provide you with some helpful tips on how to sustain a professional ‘digital footprint’.
The Biggest Dos and Don’ts of Social Media in the Workplace According to Romi Martin and Arinda Truter at Dingley Marshall Inc.
1 Google yourself
If anything comes up in your Google search that you wouldn’t want an employer or prospective business partner to see, remove it as soon as possible.
2 Clean up your social media accounts
Use your social media accounts from the mind-set of a job seeker. If you don’t want a potential employer to know about something you did or thought, then don’t post about it. Delete any unsavoury posts and check your privacy settings to ensure you can consent to every single post or photo you are tagged in.
3 Use proper profile pictures
Stay away from drunk and disorderly pics and rather use a professional profile picture.
4 Watch out for opinions
Yes, we all have opinions but social media is not always the place to air them. Think about the consequences of expressing your opinions – are you defaming someone? Are you committing hate speech?
5 Showcase your interests
Use your social media platforms to show your credibility on the topics that matter most to you. Share content that you have an interest in or that you have created and participate in the online forums and digital communities that fit your specialty.
6 Think before you post!
No need for a description here.
1 Post anything you wouldn’t say out loud in a business meeting
This includes any unsavoury/defamatory/discriminatory/rude/obscene/unlawful posts. Anything that can get you into legal hot water is a no-go!
2 Share distasteful posts
In South African law, the sharer can be just as guilty as the creator.
3 Post any dodgy photos of yourself
And here we don’t mean no-makeup selfies. Stay away from photos of you passed out on your friend’s couch, vomiting in the plant outside of the club, drinking two glasses of bubbly at once, taking a personal moment in the garden because the queue is too long for the bathroom… You know how it goes, we all see these interesting things on social media.
4 Act unprofessional
As far as reasonable. This does not mean only post the latest interest rates and hard-hitting news stories. You can post whatever you want but be mindful of how it will come across and what picture it paints of you. This obviously also depends on your career field.
5 Get involved in social media politics
The comment section is a trap. Your comments will be screen-grabbed and shared far and wide.
6 Rely on privacy
Privacy settings will not always protect your personal data from third parties. Hackers love breaking down your social media doors and too many leaks have been happening during the past few years.
*Remember, it is also not always about what you post. Messages sent to WhatsApp groups and direct messages on Facebook to a friend can be screen-grabbed and shared on someone else’s social media.
Here are some more practical tips for a more professional social media profile:
- Use proper profile pictures
- Use proper grammar and spelling
- Share content relating to your field of interest
- Do not share any unlawful or unsavoury posts or photos
- Use an interesting and descriptive bio
- Optimise LinkedIn to its full potential
- Share content that you created to showcase your skills
- Follow influencers in your field
- Be yourself
For further information or advice on the laws around social media elements such as:
- online harassment
- defamation of character
- copyright protection and infringements
- trademark protection and infringements
- social media policy drafting and enforcement
- workplace training
- privacy and data protection
- corporate social media strategies
- social media in the workplace and vicarious liability
- consumer protection
- online sale agreements
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