With the rise of social media in the workplace, your human resource personnel should take a closer look at their company policies.

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become socially acceptable marketing and networking tools for the business world today. These pieces of technology aid in building one’s brand in very unique ways. But this is not new news to anyone, especially those of us who have been on these sites for years now.
Facebook has 90 million users, and is the #1 social networking site in the world and the fourth most-trafficked website in the world. There is an incorrect impression that Facebook is only for the young and used primarily for social purposes. Not so. More than 50% of Facebook’s active users are 25 years or older. LinkedIn now has 23 million users, with an average age of 41. LinkedIn is now growing faster than Facebook. This means your employees are using these sites on a daily basis!

What business owners really need to know is how to handle the use of these in a professional setting. We can talk about the obvious “HR policies” that should be in place such as Facebook and Twitter should not be used for personal use on company time, but this is up to the personal discretion of the owner. You might consider adding a “social networking” policy to your company handbook. What about more pressing issues such as privacy, leaking valuable and confidential company information online, and online co worker battles?

We have seen countless examples of social media “gone bad”, and situations one would have never thought possible.  First, employees need to be aware of their privacy when it comes to their accounts. Be aware that your co workers and possible supervisors may be able to see your personal life even if you are not directly friends with them. When you put something on the internet it is out there forever and can’t be taken back! Your status should probably not say “I hate my job” when you are Facebook friends with your HR manager. In addition, managers should make sure that their employees know a company’s confidential information that should never be leaked into cyber-space. Even if your employees are using these sites for marketing and branding purposes there are still things that shouldn’t be said. Lastly, when a dispute is going on with co workers a social networking platform is probably not the best place to “talk” about it. They should be handled by Human Resources in a professional manner.

Take on the challenge to address these issues in your business as soon as possible.  Do not ignore this trend because it is here to stay and will probably affect you and your company at some point.