Monday, September 27, 2010

Facebook Firings: Fair? Maybe. Frequent? Increasingly.

Two weeks I wrote a post advising employees and employers to really think about what social media sites are saying about them (Would you do a beer bong in a bikini at the office?). The response I received on this blog and on sites such as LinkedIn ranged from calling me "Big Brother" to completely agreeing. My personal stance on this matter is not significant; the proof is in the pudding:

According to a 2009 study of US companies, 8% had fired someone due to post on a social networking site, up from only 4% in 2008.
Want to know how to avoid the chopping block? Follow these simple steps. It may all seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people break these rules:
1) Everyone company should have a social media policy in place:
Set expectations! If you fire someone because they talked trash about a client on Twitter, you have a signed document saying they are aware of your expectations and the consequences of them not being met.
2) Pretend Facebook is real life:
Confusing, I know. People see your Facebook. People who know people, who know people, who know your boss. Even if your boss is 92 and has never heard of social media and even if you are only friends with your husband, dog, best friend and grandma. What you are saying is public information. Grandma may know your 92 year old boss and may yell at him for making you work nights at your "suck-fest" of a job.
3) Represent yourself:
Like I said, it’s all public information. You are sharing your status or update with AT LEAST your entire friends list. Would you stand in front of 200 people from elementary school, friends of kids, kids of friends, coworkers and family members and announce that you don't like your job, your boss smells like cheese, your clients suck and you are currently drunk at the office?
4) Use your powers for good, not evil:
For every horror story about getting fired, caught, written up, I can tell you 27 stories about individuals and businesses who have increased leads, built brands, made sells and provided excellent customer service using social networking sites. Make good use of your time and resources; don't waste it complaining about your client from hell. We all have them and they are NOT that interesting.

Check out these unfortunate tales of companies and people who didn't head my amazing advice:
Facebook page by people who have been fired because of Facebook (it’s like a depressing support group)

Cop goes to stripper car wash in his cop car, gets fired after posting pic on Facebook

Waiter/actor Tweets gossip to 22 followers, gets fired

Obviously these are some extreme examples used to make a point...AND the point is: exercise discretion and think about what your posts are saying about you, your family, your friends and the people you work with and for. Use your brain.


PS. If you must publicly rant, do so on an anonymous (and funny) site such as You can also just visit that sight to feel better about your employment situation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Would you do a beer bong in a bikini at the office?

Picture it: 
Beth is a top sales performer at your company, Paper To Go. She is "friends" on Facebook with all 9 of your employees and  does a stellar job of building external and internal relationships by planning and inviting people to company events using Paper To Go's Facebook page.  She has a "company events" photo section on Flikr that makes all employees appear professional and yet, fun and relatable. She has sealed many deals by building great relationships with clients and vendors on Twitter. She recently recruited your number one sales person through a LinkedIn group.

She also posts daily photos of herself in sexy clothing and sometimes lingerie. Her current Facebook status says she is "Playin' hooky and getting her drink on!" She has recently posted a message on her assistants Facebook page saying he is looking "so so sexy" in his recent photo.

Is she sexually harassing your other employees or your clients with her near nude photos and sexual posts? Do you have to fire her for saying she playing hooky? Do you want to have to fire your top performer for something she is doing in her personal time? At the same time, do you want your clients know THIS is who is handling their account?

In the year 2020 there will be 18 year olds going to college who have never lived in a world where social media networks didn't exist. In 2025, they will be 23, fresh out of college and looking for a job. They will have never lived in a world where their Friday night parties didn't show up on Facebook. They will know that no matter who they are texting or where they are posting, their moms, grandmas, bosses and friends could have access to it with in mere minutes. It will be ingrained in their brains that calling their coworkers a name, saying they hate their jobs or talking bad about a client WILL be seen, shared, reposted and they WILL be punished for it.

In 2010 people of all ages have email, texting, Facebook pages, Flicker sites and more. Their first instinct is not to think about where the information they are divulging is going, just that for the first time, they can be heard: loud and clear.

Do you have the policies and training in place to ensure that your employees are using even personal social media sites in a way that represents yours company well and protects you and your employees? Please consider a social media policy that clearly and legally spells out the rules, guidelines and ramifications for content on professional AND personal social media sites.

Also,  please take off the Facebook picture of you in a bikini doing a beer bong. Your grandmother DOES NOT want to see it.

Happy Tuesday,