Social Media in the Workplace

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1 Social Media in the Workplace A Guide for CWU Members CWU Youth Committee 2013

2 CONTENTS Introduction... 3 Social Networking in Ireland... 4 Guidelines for using Social Media Responsibly

3 INTRODUCTION This guide has been developed by the Communications Workers Union Youth Committee to provide practical information for workers on the use of social media, particularly in the workplace. The guide is not an interpretation of law and does not supersede any company policy, which should be adhered to at all times. Social media is a term which describes the tools used to share information online, generally on social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube etc) or web blog sites, and which allows interaction between users. In other words, social media refers to anything on the internet where content is created by the people who use social networking/ blog sites which facilitate online discussion, sharing of photos/ videos or exchange of information. The main objective of this guide is to educate workers on the responsible use of social media and to make people aware that employers increasingly monitor internet usage during work hours and negative comments/ blogs posted by employees. If your employer does not have a specific policy regarding internet usage and/or social media, it is advisable to err on the side of caution and refrain from posting negative statements as you may become subject to disciplinary proceedings. It is possible that inappropriate or derogatory comments made about your employer, colleagues, clients/ customers etc could be viewed as gross misconduct and could ultimately result in dismissal. This guide is not exhaustive, but sets out ten general principles for using social media responsibly. 3

4 SOCIAL NETWORKING IN IRELAND Facebook is by far the most popular social networking site with individuals and businesses/ organisations using it to connect with friends/ family, customers, supporters, etc. Other popular sites include Twitter and LinkedIn. Statistics on Facebook usage in Ireland 1 In 2011 there were approximately 1.75 million people over the age of 15 using Facebook, which equates to roughly 50% of the over 15 population 90% of people aged between use Facebook, with two thirds of these using it every day 20% of people aged between use Facebook, with 35% of these using it every day Statistics on Twitter usage in Ireland 1 In 2011 there were approximately 245,000 people over the age of 15 using Twitter, which equates to roughly 7% of the over 15 population The percentage of people checking their Twitter account daily rose from 18% to 30% during 2011 Statistics on LinkedIn usage in Ireland 1 In 2011 there were approximately 420,000 people in Ireland using LinkedIn (according to LinkedIn s own reports) The percentage of people using LinkedIn increased from 4% in 2010 to 9% in Research by Ipsos MRBI (2011) 4

5 GUIDELINES FOR USING SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSIBLY The most important thing to bear in mind when using social media is that employers are online too! There are increasing reports of individuals being dismissed for misuse of company social media accounts or for posting comments/ photos on their personal profiles which are seen by colleagues and/or employers (for example, posting that you were out late and then calling in sick to work). It has also happened on several occasions that something a person believed was being posted privately has ended up in the public domain and has resulted in disciplinary action being taken. These accidents can occur, so for your own protection it is advisable to be mindful that information you post may make its way into the public domain. Therefore, when using social media you should be aware that it may reach more than your intended audience and you are ultimately liable for anything you post online. Ten Tips for using Social Media: 1. Do not speak for your employer unless you have express permission You should not speak for your employer (i.e. disclose information, publish information, make commitments/ comments or engage in activities on behalf of your employer) unless you are specifically authorised to do so. Any online activities associated with work for your employer should be discussed and approved in advance by someone with the authority to do so. 2. Keep confidential Data Protection laws apply online as well as in other media. Avoid sharing confidential information or dealings with your employer, other employees, customers and/or members of the public unless you have express written permission to do so. Similarly, copyright laws mean that placing images or text from a copyrighted source (i.e. extracts from publications, photos etc) without permission is likely to breach copyright. Avoid publishing anything you are unsure about or seek permission in advance. 5

6 3. Protect yourself from identity fraud Restrict the amount of personal information you give out. Social networking sites and online forums allow people to post detailed personal information such as date of birth, place of birth and interests which can form the basis of security questions and passwords, and can lead to identity fraud and breaches of security. 4. If you can be linked to your employer, act appropriately Where you are clearly identifiable as being an employee of your company and/or discuss your work or details of your employer s work using social media, you should conduct yourself in a professional manner to avoid being accused of causing damage to your employer s reputation, which could result in disciplinary action against you. 5. Remember that colleagues, prospective employers, and clients/ customers may see your online information Whether you identify yourself as an employee of your company or not, think carefully about how much personal information you want to make public and make sure your profile and the information you post reflects how you want to be seen both personally and professionally. Once published, it can be very difficult to remove information from the public domain. Furthermore, it can stay public for a very long time, possibly be copied and/or amended by others, or even changed to misrepresent your intended message. You can never assume that your posts are private. It is important that you familiarise yourself with privacy settings and fully understand the professional implications of whichever level of security you choose. It is recommended that you apply the highest privacy settings and regularly review them, as the website many alter the settings without your knowledge. Ensure that anything you post complies with your employer s policies relating to ICT security, internet acceptable usage and/or social media. 6. Consider contact with clients/ customers Ensure that any contact with clients/ customers (current or former) is strictly within a professional context, if necessary at all. It would be advisable not to 6

7 accept clients/ customers as friends (i.e. on Facebook). For your own protection, if you do liaise with clients/ customers electronically, you are advised to do so using your official work account so that any communication is logged. 7. Choose your friends carefully You may appear in photos published by other people and you may be identified without consent (i.e. tagging photos on Facebook), so it is advisable to be mindful of what photos you appear in. You can un tag yourself from photos, although you may not be able to remove the photo completely. Your friend many not have as rigorous security settings as you might choose for yourself and it may be seen by third parties who you would otherwise wish not to have access. 8. Stay legal Stay within the law at all times. Be aware that confidentiality, libel, defamation, copyright and data protection laws apply online just as in any other media. Whether you identify yourself as an employee of your company or not, think carefully about the information you post. Remember you are personally liable for what you publish online. 9. Never make offensive or defamatory comments Never make any comments which could be deemed offensive or defamatory about your employer, managers/ supervisors, colleagues and/or clients/ customers. Never use ethnic slurs, personal insults, or behave in ways that would not be acceptable in the workplace or which could bring your employer into disrepute, break the law and leave you open to disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution. 10. If in doubt, get advice If you are unsure about anything to do with social media, it s always best to consult your company policy (if there is one), ask your manager/ supervisor or contact the Union before you publish information. 7

8 Communications Workers Union William Norton House Tel: Fax: North Circular Road Web: 8 Dublin 1 Facebook: CWU Youth Committee Ireland

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