I recently sat down with The Daily Mail to discuss the new rules of social media in the work place. To read the full article, click here.
Is it ever okay to be friends with your boss on social media? What are the dangers?
It really depends on the corporate culture at your firm. If you are working for an up and coming digital agency where you live and breath social media, then friending your boss is okay. However, if you work at more of a traditional commercial real estate firm or investment bank where social media usage is shunned upon during the workday, then I would not recommend connecting with your boss.
It also depends on the platform. It is always acceptable (and encouraged!) to connect with your boss on LinkedIN. If your boss has a public Twitter account for business, it is also acceptable to
Follow them to show you are engaged with the company. Favoriting a few tweets goes a long way to show you care.
The dangers are endless- there can be serious consequences with friending a boss if you are posting inappropriate content. It can also blur the lines between professional and personal boundaries, which many have a hard time distinguishing between. Also, if you fib about why you couldn’t make it in that day and your boss sees you are actually out jet skiing, you may get fired. Be sure to always read your firms social media guidelines regardless.
If you are friends with your boss on social media, are there any rules you should follow?
- The same traditional etiquette rules apply here- stay away from any discussions on sex, religion or politics. Basically anything that you wouldn’t traditionally discuss with a first date (or your boss) should not be discussed online. People get heated in conversations and forget that what they are saying is public and fairly easy to find.
- Use privacy filters when you post. Be selective with who you choose to share each piece of content with- that’s why groups and filters exist for this very reason.
- Be cognizant about what you are posting. After you have posted the 500th photo of your baby, your boss may subconsciously begin to question what your top priority and focus is. Having a balance of the type of content you post is critical.
Do you believe it is a good idea to connect with colleagues on social media? Are there any rules to follow in this case?
It really depends. If you have a close relationship with the colleague in the office, then yes. If you don’t speak to the colleague at work but friend them on social media, it is strange and socially awkward. Friend and connect people you are actually connected with in real life.
Top rule- respect people’s boundaries. Some people are extremely private and won’t accept any requests from coworkers. Don’t take it personally and don’t harp on it! It’s not about you. It’s their personal choice.
What would your advice be if your boss/co-worker adds you but you’d rather not be connected?
Send them a direct message or email and let them know you really appreciate the friend request but only use social media to stay connected with your family. Reassure them it’s nothing personal and re direct them to connect with you on your LinkedIn. Have at least one professional presence on a social media network to connect with them on so you aren’t completely ignoring the request entirely.
Are there any particular social media sites you believe are best avoided in the workplace?
Facebook has been brought up many times in recent lawsuits and employee hirings and firings. I think it’s safe to assume that even if you don’t connect with colleagues, potential employers will still use your social media for background checks. Assume everything you post is for public consumption.
Instagram is pretty private and users put on privacy restrictions so their colleagues cannot access their posts. Sometimes people overdue it with excessive party posts or humble brag weekend posts, and can also be obnoxious with hashtags. If you are constantly posting quotes or mantras that “somewhere it’s 5 o clock” it’s safe to say your boss will think you are not that motivated and can’t wait to leave. Use your social media to empower you NOT to hurt you in the workplace.
Twitter is fine if you have a public, corporate Twitter persona. However, if you are tweeting extremely personal opinions and favoriting content from outlets you may not want your boss to know you are associated with, keep it private.