Today’s Guest Poster
Today we’re fortunate enough to have guest blogger Mark joining us!
Mark takes us on a journey into the realms of social media and its increasingly pervasive influence over our work lives and on our careers.
Social media faux pas have hit the headlines recently, and the stories act to remind us that as employees we are brand/company ambassadors for those that employ us. Of equal importance is the notion that once you click to post that comment, photo or video, we lose control of what we are sharing with others, regardless of our privacy settings. Additionally, we lose the context – and in so many instances, the context can be everything. Whilst these examples relate to political issues, the people involved are still effectively employees.
Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s now-former Shadow Attorney General, made headlines recently when she tweeted a photograph from Rochester on the day of the local by-election, with the comment ‘Image from #Rochester’. Having posted the photograph, with a seemingly innocent text, others sought to make political capital from it, by adding their own context. Within hours, she’d resigned her position, her political career effectively over.
A lesser known fact about the offending tweet is that it was actually was the third of four Twitpics that she shared with her followers that day, effectively setting the scene for the day ahead:
With the Labour Party having long portrayed itself as the political choice of the working man, the message that others chose to attach to the image was such that it implied a disconnect between an organisation and its core ‘customers’, regardless of what was intended.
A week or so later, Elizabeth Lauten – ironically a ‘Communications Director’ for a Republican Congressman from Tennessee – took to Facebook to comment on President Obama’s daughters following their appearance at a ceremonial event linked to the US Thanksgiving festival. Lauten wasn’t the first to pass comment, with many passing amusing comments on their seemingly-disinterested expressions. Those other comments, however, didn’t happen to come from a paid employee of a competitor.
In making the comments as she did, brought unwanted focus onto her employer, the Congressman Stephen Fincher, as well as bringing the Republican political party into disrepute. As I write, news is breaking that Lauten has resigned her post. Her next employer will doubtlessly be very conscious of the association between her name, and her reliability as an employee.
Emily Thornberry’s Twitter account still displays the tweet. Elizabeth Lauten’s Facebook account no longer carries her status update, but the apology she posted in its place still stands. A throwaway comment. A momentary lapse of reason. A single click, and the ‘damage’ is done, to the point that it can no longer be ‘undone’.
Whether we’re applying for a position, established in a role, or seeking to move on, where we choose to embrace social media, integrity and decency is everything. In being the excellent you, you need to make excellent choices about what you share online, regardless of who you believe your audience to be.
Mark is a Senior Manager for a South West-based marketing company. With a broad commercial experience across the public and private sector, he consults on customer analytics and business strategy across a range of industries.
His blog, www.WeAskTheQuestions.co.uk investigates hidden agenda in politics, mainstream and social media, seeking to highlight a more balanced story.