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Prevent social media backfires

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Almost daily it seems an employee from some company has posted content on a social media site that went viral and hurt the business. Here’s what you can do:

Create a policy. Detail what is acceptable to post about the business and what isn’t. That gives employees guidance and offers you recourse if an employee violates the policy (e.g., you can fire).

Don’t obsess over employees’ activity. Don’t try to catch people in the act or constantly check employees’ accounts. Additionally, forgive vague venting; but if you learn that an employee has called out a customer by name, used derogatory language or exposed confidential information, address the issue fast.

Speak to people directly. If you are aware of the behavior, don’t blast out a companywide policy reminder. Instead, meet with offenders directly, describe the offensive post, and ask them to remove the post and refrain from similar posts in the future.

Focus most on clean up. While the employee may have acted alone, your organization’s reputation is on the line. Apologize and make amends quickly and publicly.

— Adapted from “How to Handle Employees Who Post Company Business on Social Media,” John Boitnott, Inc.,

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