NSFW: When Social Networks are Blocked for Your Own Good


Source: Shutterstock

In Social Media, we indeed cast digital shadows. We are what we tweet and in the era of equalized influence and democratized digital content distribution, our reputation does in fact precede us. The very tools we use to satisfy our quiet flirtations with vanity as we channel our inner micro celebrity are in actuality the same platforms that can also unravel the fabric of our stature.

Why does Social Media seem to lower our guard? Why do we feel insulated in our very public activities as if we’re merely conversing in a trusted group forum? Yet we’re shocked and angered when the words we intentionally share are used against us. We are frustrated and disappointed when access to these systems that facilitate self-empowerment are regulated.


Source: Mashable

Social Media is among the most pervasive and prominent technologies to enter the workplace from the outside-in, whereas innovation and modernization typically transpires from the top-down.

While the champions debate internally as to who owns social media, ask yourself who owns email within your organization today – the most prominent social network of them all. Is it marketing, service, advertising, or PR?  The truth is, the IT department owns email. And now it appears that IT is also attempting to own Social Media.

A new survey that was just released by Robert Half Technology reveals that 54% of CIOs (Chief Information Officers) block employees from visiting or updating social networking sites for any reason while at work. The study polled 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked a direct question, “Which of the following most closely describes your company’s policy on visiting social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, while at work?”

The responses:

Prohibited completely – 54%
Permitted for business purposes only – 19%
Permitted for limited personal use – 16%
Permitted for any type of personal use – 10%

The arguments against blocking social media seem to rekindle discussions about how the desktop telephone and email were once banned at the employee level for fear of losing control of the workflow process and resulting productivity.

Eventually, CIOs and ultimately employers will recognize social networks as new mediums for communicating with not only friends but customers, influencers, advocates, and prospects. The true change agents and champions for any organization however, carry the burden of demonstrating a deep-rooted understanding of maintaining productive social interaction to the decision makers to whom we report. in other words, we contribute to the perception, potential, and value of new media.

There’s a reason why recruiters, admissions officials, and corporate management are eliminating candidates based on the information they find in public social networks. It’s the same insular onlie behavior that justifies the firing of current employees based on their misuse of social media on and off the clock.

This is why establishing and implementing guidelines, policies, and training programs are so important across the entire organization, not just for those employees who engage in social networks on behalf of the company.

Robert Half Technology offers the following tips for protecting your professional reputation when using social networking sites:

- Know what’s allowed. Make sure you understand and adhere to your company’s social networking policy.

- Use caution. Be familiar with each site’s privacy settings to ensure personal details or photos you post can be viewed only by people you choose.

- Keep it professional.
Use social networking sites while at work to make connections with others in your field or follow industry news — not to catch up with family or friends.

- Stay positive. Avoid complaining about your manager and coworkers. Once you’ve hit submit or send, you can’t always take back your words — and there’s a chance they could be read by the very people you’re criticizing.

- Polish your image. Tweet or blog about a topic related to your profession. You’ll build a reputation as a subject matter expert, which could help you advance in your career.

- Monitor yourself. Even if your employer has a liberal policy about social networking, limit the time you spend checking your Facebook page or reading other people’s tweets to avoid a productivity drain.

Perhaps the best advice is to not rely on common sense at all. You, and only you, are responsible for creating and defining your destiny. Instead of giving companies reasons why they should block important social networks and ultimately new opportunities, show them what they’re missing through your actions, research, and words.

More examples here.

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  • http://ducedo.com/ Stefan

    I really love that image. It shows how more people need to think about what they are doing online.

  • http://www.relenet.com/ Tom Rau

    Those kind of incidents are always fun to read. I guess it's the same reason why people love talk shows.
    When working with social media channels we all need to be aware of what information these channels transmit. And how other can access this information. These little incidents keep us aware of the problem from time to time.
    You don't need to think about this when you speak to someone face to face or on the phone. So make sure that you get social media into your blood to follow the rules without having to think about it.
    After all you don't poke your nose when talking to someone face to face and you don't eat while on the phone.

  • http://www.moneyonline.net/ Trond

    Hi Brian!
    Excellent post! :-)

    I don't know if the Facebook scenario illustrated is just an example or a true fact – but it puts attention on several important things. There are things to do and things NOT to do regarding social media communication ;-)

    Sincerely,
    Trond, Author @ MoneyOnline.net

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  • larryirons

    The eLearning Guild offered more granular statistics on access to social networking sites in their eLearning 2.0 report last year.

    http://skilfulminds.com/2008/09/26/e-learning-2

    With the spread of smart phones it is hard to see how a company can prevent passive use, i.e. consumption, of social media on the job. As you imply, it is kind of like the late 90s and personal use of cell phones at work. So, for those IT managers, or other executives, who worry about lost productivity, the cat really is out of the bag already.

    Of course, active contribution to social media while at work is, in some respects, controllable through monitoring. In that respect, your call for self-awareness of our social practices online is right on target.

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  • http://www.writtenbysumer.com/ Britt

    I truly don't understand how unprofessional some people can be on social media sites. I know of several companies who have gotten “caught with their pants down” on social media sites. It's not pretty. My motto is to simply be respectful, whether you disagree with others or not.

  • http://www.websiteblaze.com/ Sean Supplee

    Great post, I am not sure why people feel the need to post things like this for all the world to say. Its understandable to say if you've had a bad day and to blow off some steam with your friends. But when your online everything you do and say can be found and take noted for.

  • http://twitter.com/stevelatham Steve Latham

    I just have one word (albeit hyphenated)…. Propeller-heads!!!!

  • livemercialsarah

    Great example! Very hard to believe someone would forget about adding thier own boss and then go on to post something of that nature, but obviously it happens. I work at a company with some liberal policies on social networking and we have been fortunate enough that our employees keep it professional while also creating new connections and leads everyday! Only goes to show that it can work if the right guidelines and training programs are implemented, just as you stated in your post. Thanks!

  • http://www.blogmuseupicassobcn.org/en Conxa Rodà

    This issue is something that many companies and institutions haven't really assimilated yet. In our museum we encourage people to be active on Social Media, but, of course, for professional networking. I think that in a few months (years?) it will be a practice as common as having e-mail at work is today.
    Conxa
    @innova2

  • http://www.louishalpern.com/ Louis Halpern

    I was sent that Facebook blunder, as were a lot of colleagues and friends, which just shows the power and reach these networks have!

    As long as individuals really think before they post their comments and don't vent their work frustrations out online, they should be allowed to utilise social media for professional and personal use. Social media makes privacy a thing of the past, so an individual has to consider their reputation no matter where or when they use it.

  • AaLl

    Great article.

  • AaLl

    Great Article!

  • Mike

    Let's not forget the boss in this incident also casted a shadow of his own and her posting gave him the green light to be even more unprofessional. He could have just notified her that he'd read what she posted and made a managerial decision that her employment was terminated because of her statement. While the young office employee was very unprofessional in her online post, and plainly revealed her attitude toward her employer and office duties, it is not at all correct for a superior to voice his opinion in his reply. His response reflected her statement very accurately. Also, the employees claims we're also dismissed based on the employers sexual preference. Perverted statements in an office environment can be made towards any sex from any sexual preference. My opinion is the boss should be evaluated and the employee seems to have worked it out for themselves.

  • http://www.blogmuseupicassobcn.org/en Conxa Rodà

    This issue is something that many companies and institutions haven't really assimilated yet. In our museum we encourage people to be active on Social Media, but, of course, for professional networking. I think that in a few months (years?) it will be a practice as common as having e-mail at work is today.
    Conxa
    @innova2

  • http://www.louishalpern.com/ Louis Halpern

    I was sent that Facebook blunder, as were a lot of colleagues and friends, which just shows the power and reach these networks have!

    As long as individuals really think before they post their comments and don't vent their work frustrations out online, they should be allowed to utilise social media for professional and personal use. Social media makes privacy a thing of the past, so an individual has to consider their reputation no matter where or when they use it.

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  • http://antoniall.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ AaLl

    Great article.

  • http://antoniall.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ AaLl

    Great Article!

  • Mike

    Let's not forget the boss in this incident also casted a shadow of his own and her posting gave him the green light to be even more unprofessional. He could have just notified her that he'd read what she posted and made a managerial decision that her employment was terminated because of her statement. While the young office employee was very unprofessional in her online post, and plainly revealed her attitude toward her employer and office duties, it is not at all correct for a superior to voice his opinion in his reply. His response reflected her statement very accurately. Also, the employees claims we're also dismissed based on the employers sexual preference. Perverted statements in an office environment can be made towards any sex from any sexual preference. My opinion is the boss should be evaluated and the employee seems to have worked it out for themselves.

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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