Social Media 101

By Shi Tianyun

If there’s anything the Amy Cheong saga has taught us, it is to watch what you say on the World Wide Web. Social media platforms can be a double-edged sword. Facebook and Twitter can help you re-connect with long-lost friends and stay updated with what’s happening in the world but it can also stab you in the back if you don’t follow the rules – as Amy Cheong has learnt the hard way.

Just like in real life, social media has its own set of etiquette, especially for the working individual. Even if your company does not have an official social media policy, here are some tips every employee with an online presence – be it a Facebook account or blog - can follow.

1. Separate personal and business
It may seem like a no-brainer but not everyone has separate private and work social media accounts. While your friends and even your colleagues might love to see your baby parading in her new dress but a status update filled with cutesy baby talk might undermine your professionalism in the eyes of bosses and clients. The general practice is to include all work contacts to one’s LinkedIn account and family and friends to the more general Facebook account.

2. Think twice before you post
Use the same common sense and courtesy that you would in real life. Before you click on the “post” button, see whether what you have typed adhere to these golden rules:

a. Don’t treat social media like your own personal soap box
In the same way that you won’t proclaim how much you hate your superior out and loud in public, you should not be ranting and raving online. Never say anything virtually that you wouldn’t in person, especially about touchy issues like politics, race, and gender. Your co-workers and boss may not be your friends on Facebook but as the Amy Cheong lesson has shown, sensational comments have the tendency to go viral and the online community is merciless.

b. Don’t check-in everywhere
It’s definitely not wise to check in on Foursquare when visiting locations for work, especially when important private-and-confidential deals are taking place. On the flipside, don’t get complacent and declare that you are having after-work drinks at 4pm – there is a chance your boss will find out that you didn’t return to the office after your meeting ended early today.

c. Don’t post every single picture you take
While uploading pictures of you hanging out with your pals may seem harmless, you never know how this information may be used against you when you advance in your career – remember a certain Tin Pei Ling Kate Spade incident? And that photo of you hugging your female colleague could lead to a potential sexual harassment suit. So whenever you are in doubt, do not post.

3. Don’t take advantage of your workplace access to social media
While this has little to do with how you behave on cyber-space, this still is part of online etiquette. If you are lucky to work in an office that does not ban social media sites, lucky you! However, this does not give you the license to go overboard. While there’s no harm in taking a Facebook break once in a while, you can imagine what will go through your boss’ mind if she sees you playing Farmville every time she passes your desk.

So you think companies should have official social media responsibility guidelines? Share with us in the comment box below!

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