It always amazes me how, in the worst global economy of our lifetimes–where lost jobs can destroy families, and every family destroyed adds to the global misery index for us all–that when the subject comes up about employees and social media, the focus always seems to be on “Policies that help companies cover all the bases so you can easily terminate employees.” I guess some consultants can make a tidy living at that kind of thing, and sleep at night, but as usual, policy and executive fiat may ‘win’ short-term while failing to address long-term reality. What does?
(1) First, companies need to rein in, remove or at least redeploy the incompetents and abusive jerks who have found their way into more than a few executive suites. That alone would go a long way toward stemming the rising tide of employees using social media to let the world know about unbearable employment situations. And no, the answer (especially in aforementioned worst global economy of our lifetimes) is not simply, “If you don’t like it, leave.” The answer also involves you as a leader of your company managing ALL of your employees, including the executives. That’s right, EXECUTIVES ARE EMPLOYEES. I’ll bet a lot of you blinked or did a double take when you read these last few sentences, because you don’t think of executives as employees. Tell you a secret: neither do too many company owners and top leaders. That’s a big part of the problem. If you own or otherwise operate any organization, do your job. Your whole job. Managing your executives is part of that job.
(2) Next, companies need to recognize this: if you are a lousy employer and you think firing employees is going to shut off negative opinion about your firm, you’re crazy. If you’re a bad employer you’re probably showing a lot of rough edges to your suppliers, partners, industry contacts, media, analysts and especially your customers. Any or all of them, plus the billions of other connected humans around the planet, plus any former employees you may have terminated through those cleverly-constructed ‘policies,’ are collectively free to write awful things about your organization every moment of every day, for all the world to see. What are you going to do? Threaten to ‘fire’ (or sue) them, too?
No. What you need is a comprehensive, cohesive social media engagement, monitoring and rapid response policy.
Engaging the planet through social media means taking constructive, business-building actions including:
- Using XeeMe as home base for your full social and other Web presence to organize and quickly access any part of it in seconds, and using its on-board social analytics to get a quick ‘read’ on how you’re doing.
- Setting up RSS readers so key execs can quickly take the pulse of the market every day and either fight fires or capitalize on opportunities.
- Having Support and other teams provide rapid response on Twiitter and FB as o2, 1800Flowers, Waste Management, Dublin hotels the Gibson and The Clarence, and many others do.
- Encouraging Sales to use Twitter and other social venues to actively engage with an increasingly mobile and sophisticated global market that in most cases no longer responds well (or at all) to cold calls and the traditional “marketing AT you” methods that Sales and Marketing have long employed.
- Using a social media monitoring/engagement platform, as discussed here, to elevate the normal ad hoc social media scramble with a systematic platform approach and help ensure consistency across all social venues.
- Engaging the world through some combination of those venues every day.
You can do a myriad of things to engage your markets with social media. [Insert your favorite strategy or strategies here.]
“Give Us Your Facebook Password”? Are You Kidding? You Should Be
Before I close, feel compelled to take a moment to deal with one of the most wrongheaded trends ever to rear its ugly head in the social sphere: “If you want this job (or if you want to keep this job) you must hand us your Facebook and/or LinkedIN account and passwords.” Sure, just as soon as you grant me access to same for every member of your executive team and board. Sound good?
Any company that thinks this is the next great social media plan had better prepare itself for Lawsuit City. Facebook wisely already filed suit about this on behalf of users, and only a weak-kneed judicial response allowed this insanity to continue. Cannot understand the logic, other than: “In this horrifying economy, we as employers figure we can get away with just about anything.” Do you really think that because we have a fiduciary business relationship, it suddenly gives you the right to access my dialogues with family and friends? Do you think you own me 24/7? Rude awakening: you do not.
Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Come to think of it, maybe if a company demands my private Facebook account and login, I should hand it over. Go ahead, just misuse one shred of the formerly-private information you find there to hurt me or anyone I care about in any way. Welcome to Lawsuit City.
“Company First,” As In Fix Your Company First
If you are properly and effectively managing your company, including your executives, AND actively engaging the planet through social channels as described above–hey, then I guess you can go ahead and implement all the ‘Firing over Facebook’ policies you like. Just remember, as my great industry friend and social presence mentor Axel Schultze has alluded to here, here and elsewhere, and I am stating here and now on MarketBLOG: censorship is not the answer.