The Social WorkplaceTips from an SHRM

10/17/2022 - By Shannon P. Lands, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CMA

This blog has been updated on 10/17/2022 from its original publishing on 3/14/2013.

There is no question about it: social media is here to stay.  While some platforms had their heyday and are now either obsolete or considered “old school”, others have popped up at a rapid pace and have become the ones to use, such as Instagram and TikTok. Then, there are those platforms that have sustained over the years and have become an integral part of a business’s strategy, such as Facebook. Focus areas like employee engagement, workplace relationships, employer branding, employee recognition and retention, and employee learning can all be affected by social media. However, as social media is increasingly becoming the norm in the workplace, companies are faced with tough decisions and “what if” and “why not” debates. The popularity of social media continues to affect the workplace in terms of communications styles, employee productivity and the blurring of lines between business and personal communications.

Now that social media is increasingly being used as legitimate business tools as mentioned above, employees who actively contribute to social media need to continuously think about social media etiquette, keeping in mind the far-reaching impact of these very useful tools. Participating on your company’s social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) can benefit both the company and the employee. Here are some things to consider when you participate on your company’s social media platforms or even tag your company on a personal post:

  • Understand what posts are considered valuable (highlighting a company event) vs. posts that may be frowned upon (negative comments about how your workday is going).
  • Make sure you understand your company’s written policy, if there is one, but also the company culture – most companies have their own written rules of conduct and their “unspoken” rules of conduct. Know your culture.
  • Before posting anything, ask yourself, “Could this make someone feel uncomfortable or be perceived as negative?” Obviously, if the answer is yes, then don’t post it.
  • Understand the boundaries between public vs. private comments or discussions. If you are posting a message that will benefit everyone, post it. If it’s a message that is only meant for a few people, send a private message. Don’t be that person in the office who posts something irrelevant that is sent to every follower, friend, etc.
  • Be professional and thoughtful – think it through before you type it. Remember, once something is published online it’s out there for the world to see – even if you delete it.  
  • Don’t retweet or share something unless you have read it yourself and it’s relevant. Headline links can be deceptive, so why would you want to put your stamp of approval on something that you haven’t even read?

Remember, an employee represents their company’s brand online and their actions on social media can either help or hurt the business. Hopefully, these tips will give employees some guidance when participating on social media platforms, whether it be their company’s platforms or their own personal ones.  

About the Author | Shannon P. Lands, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CMA

Shannon serves as the manager of the human resources function and related HR consulting services for Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund. She has been an HR practitioner since 1994, acting as a human resources administrator and consultant for a number of small to mid-sized companies. Shannon’s experience includes all aspects of human resources and payroll administration, including policy and procedure development, employee relations, wage and hour compliance, benefits administration, talent acquisition, performance management and wage/benefit structures.

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