December 5, 2014
As an employee, you’re probably aware that your social media accounts can have a big impact on your career. But did you know that your actions on social media can actually affect your employer, too?
One off-color remark or simple misunderstanding could be enough to send you and your employer into a hurricane of bad PR. However, the reverse is also true – you could be your employer’s most valuable asset when it comes to helping grow his or her brand on social media.
Whether you’re working a part-time job or are in your dream career, you can utilize these tips to avoid damaging – and potentially even improve – your employer’s brand on social media.
Some companies thrive off of occasional controversy. After all, bad publicity is still publicity, right? Well, not always. While some companies and CEOs can swing an occasional controversial remark, as an employee, you should play it safe.
While Home Depot may be able to recover from a stunningly tacky ad and ZzzQuil may be able to use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to make a play on “dreams,” you should avoid the temptation to get a cheap (and possibly offensive) laugh for your business. Let the marketing departments take risks in that regard, and make sure that your social media profiles stay squeaky clean by avoiding off-color jokes or remarks.
Your social media pages can also be judged negatively by association, whether it’s joining offensive groups on Facebook or reposting offensive things on Twitter. If you really can’t avoid that kind of content, create a separate account for these actions, and a more buttoned-up account for professional interactions and work acquaintances.
Keep complaints offline
Happy employees don’t generally pose a huge risk to employers on social media. But disgruntled employees? They’re a whole other can of worms.
In 2013, Applebee’s made waves on social media when one of its employees was stiffed on a tip. A co-worker uploaded a photo of the receipt – complete with the customer’s information to Reddit. Shortly after, people began flooding the official Applebee’s Facebook page with complaints about the chain in general.
Instead of letting the chaos die down, Applebee’s social media team began responding personally to as many comments as possible. The responses ranged from corporate jargon to snarky comebacks. Then, they announced the firing of the waitress in question, further fanning the fires. The media also took hold of the story and ran with it, causing a PR disaster that took weeks to clean up – all because of an irritated employee.
The lesson for employees? If you’re upset about something at work – and you’re concerned about protecting your company’s reputation – keep your complaints offline. If you have a problem with a boss, a customer, or a co-worker, deal with it in the office – and keep the details off social media. Chances are, your issue will get resolved sooner – and your company’s reputation will remain intact.
Be a social media advocate
If you have the power to affect your employer negatively on social media, it stands to reason that you can impact them positively, too. And in fact, employees can be a company’s most valuable asset when it comes to social media branding. You’re likely already on social media – and you’re already familiar with your company’s products, services, culture and values. That means you’re the perfect person to advocate for them on social media.
How do you advocate for your company on social media? Focus on the positive or interesting aspects of your company, and share them online. If the company is marketing a new promotion or releasing a new product, share a picture and a small caption expressing your excitement. If the company is hiring, post a note to let your Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections know. It could be as simple as sharing a story about something funny that happened in the office or something great you accomplished at work. Little things like this, shared from real employees like you, go a long way when it comes to building a strong, trustworthy brand on social media.
Do you advocate for your company on social media? What do you think is most effective?