The explosion in social media for both business and personal use has blurred the lines between what is acceptable behavior in each environment. The business environment requires that individuals behave responsibly online as respectable representatives of their company. In the personal environment, this is not always the case. Fortunately, there are convenient ways to help employees maintain proper etiquette according to company specific standards, protecting both the individual and also the organization.
Some of the top reasons employees should know about social media security include the confidentiality of sensitive information, the reputation associated with companies and their employees, the security of passwords used for secure and unsecured websites, and the use of appropriate language and topics of conversation in various environments. The social media environment is unique, because our professional and private activities often overlap. When this overlap occurs, employees should be aware that their personal activities have the potential to impact their professional careers.
Strategies for Acceptable Social Media Behavior
Instructing employees on acceptable social media behavior does not need to be a complex or time-consuming process. In most cases, simply making people aware of the risks associated with social media in regards to the organization or professional use is enough to prevent future issues.
The first thing an organization should do is to establish what it will consider as acceptable professional behavior. What can and can not be shared about the company and what constitutes confidential information. It is nearly impossible to maintain an organization-wide standard for social media use by evaluating issues on a case-by-case basis as new problems arise. This organization approved standard can be worked into training programs for employees such as Global Learning’s Social Media Compliance program, which covers global issues that individual employers may overlook.
Common Social Media Security Concerns
Keeping Confidential Information Private
Social media is designed as a platform for public sharing. People share all sorts of information to the general public and complete strangers through social media sites. While this is what attracts people to social media in a personal context, in a business setting, this level of free sharing is typically unacceptable.
Personal and Organizational Reputation
Public sharing is a double-edged sword. Professional online conduct can have a positive impact on the reputation of an individual or an organization that he or she represents just like unprofessional conduct can have a negative impact. Employees should be aware of how social media use affects the impression for themselves and the company as a whole.
Appropriate Language and Conduct
People tend to maintain a professional demeanor during business hours that transitions to a more relaxed posture in informal settings. With social media, it is often accessible to the same individual in both environments. The reader of a social media post will see no difference between the two. Individuals need to be aware that a post made informally one day, can be read by someone expecting a professional the next. This is especially important if you use your personal accounts to connect with professional contacts.
Logins & Passwords
It might be tempting to use the same login information and/or password across multiple accounts or sites; this is, however, a very dangerous thing to do. Different types of sites offer varying degrees of security, and if one site is compromised, the attacker will gain access to all of your accounts. It is always better to create unique logins and passwords for recreational uses versus those used in a professional setting. Using only one password for multiple sites puts all of those accounts at risk if that password is compromised.
Consumers, suppliers, competitors, and employers use social media to gather information about each other. As such, it is important for all involved to use social media wisely. This wise use will include established corporate policies that employees must comply with that are presented to each individual who represents the organization. In addition to in-house training, external training programs in social media security offer a convenient, global perspective to help companies avoid the unexpected.