Disengaging can be difficult in any career field. When they go home, doctors need to escape the medical traumas they’ve seen. Actors, after filming, must remember they are no longer playing a character. Writers need to learn to put the pen down. We, public relations professionals who utilize social media on a daily basis, must remember that we are wirelessly plugged into social networks all day, every day. And when it comes to separating yourself from your work, you need to double—no, triple—check that you are logged out.
During the majority of your workday, you are representing your employer in every digital aspect. You are on their computer, texting on the (company) cell phone, and tweeting from the Twitter account. You are in a constant flux of managing various platforms—whether that is through social media, or person-to-person communication. It is your responsibility as the employee to maintain the utmost professional and politically neutral presence for the company; you control the company’s public image. Which brings me back to my topic. Have you logged out?
Have you logged out of your employers Twitter or Facebook page before you start ranting about some opinionated, inappropriate nonsense? You could potentially ruin your career, and along with it, ruin your company’s image. On her blog, Pros in Training, Kelli Matthews (@kmatthews) wrote an excellent post on this exact topic. In her post, Bad Judgment Creates Twitter Crises, Kelli provided in-depth examples of what NOT to do as a employee in charge of a corporate social networking account.
Kelli spoke of two cases in particular that had come from major brand-name companies: Kitchen Aid and Stub Hub. Both involved a “mistaken” tweet whilst remaining logged into the company account. The Kitchen Aid mishap contained ill-mannered political opinion, and the Stub Hub tweet contained simple, inappropriate language. Both misbegotten tweets were downright disrespectful and lacked maturity. Kelli proceeded to say, “If you’re a company that’s hired someone who would tweet EITHER of these tweets (even on a personal account), you’ve made a bad hiring decision.”
I completely agree. If you can’t handle yourself if a publicized social media setting, whether on your personal or corporate account, then you definitely should avoid the field of public relations.
This just goes to show that lack of personal judgment will not get you far, especially in the workplace. Be careful when working in a social media and digital networking environment. It is simple to avoid these types of mistakes, but they do happen. A good place to start is by assessing your own communications, and what you portray to your own personal publics. It’s nearly impossible to remain private on the Internet once you’ve posted something; if you believe that what you have to say will offend a number of people, don’t post it. You never know who will see it: maybe your supervisor!