I don't have the answer yet. I don't know that anyone really does, as social media is like an octopus, regrowing tentacles and mushing and morphing its way through the communal media ocean. But one of the biggest questions I hear from my client and prospects about entering that ocean is how to "control their employees." And of course the immediate answer to THAT is: "you dont."
Clearly, participating in social networking is about being yourself and communing as best we can in our face-time starved society. I always think about Tim Sanders and his book from '02, Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends His premise is that sharing information is a loving, giving thing and that we all need to open our "rolodexes" and give a little to get a little. The Dilbert society of cubicles has starved us for companionship. Even love ain't gonna drive us offline so easily any more. We even FIND love online these days. We will keeping trying to find virtual places to hang out and talk.
So, for a company to ask us to stay nicely in our cubbies and not chat is not practical. But there are WAYS to chat...and as has always been the case there's that little thing most employees sign about not blabbing trade secrets to the press or even friends.
The internet is one big mouthpiece (and I LOVE Brian Madison's song "What Happens in Vegas Stays on the Internet" it should be sung after the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school, if kids still do the pledge, these days.)
Employees have to have the dots connected for them that badmouthing a bad boss on Twitter or posting a gripe in a chat room about co-worker is the same as broadcasting to the world. Forever.
So, for here's a good legal blog to read, even if it will sort of strike fear in the hearts of some employees and employers.
The battle of the blog: Legal implications of your employees blogging about the workplace :: WRAL.com
FYI: (No employees were harmed in the making of this blog.)
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