Company Time, Company Dime

At least once in every job I’ve held in college, a supervisor or manager has mentioned that I now represent the company/organization/campus department and that I must be careful of what I post online. It’s easy to consider yourself “off the clock” when you are not technically punched in. But as long as you have an online presence, you are constantly clocked in for the world to see.

From an individual perspective, the biggest implication concerning social media use in the workforce, in my opinion, is using it as an outlet or posting confidential information about your company. I tie my social media accounts to my employers, not only to build my brand within the professional world, but also the hold myself accountable that everything and anything I post online will be seen by current or future employers. By doing this, I am constantly reminded that nothing I upload is private.

But at the same time, a company executive will argue the biggest implication is using company time to check personal social media accounts. There is not much substance to the argument supporting those that do this since company time should be on the company. However, a 2012 survey found that 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites every day at work, with the most popular website being Facebook. To sum it up, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles puts it best. Though it does not have an elaborate social media policy, it does emphasize what the company can do with any employee’s postings:

As a student responsible for not only my personal accounts but also those affiliated with Marquette (@SeniorChallenge and @LateNightMU), I was interested to see the different policies of universities concerning social media. Because UW-Madison is so close to Marquette, I took a glance at its guidelines and found it interesting how school related and personal use are addressed separately.

Concerning school related use, Madison emphasizes confidentiality, privacy, respect of university time and property, transparency, and liability. The requirements seem pretty self-explanatory — represent the university in the best way possible. However, when it comes to posting as an individual, Madison highlights different guidelines and values that students should keep in mind, including:

  • Be authentic
  • Use a disclaimer
  • Use of the UW-Madison logo and endorsement is forbidden
  • Take the high ground
  • Don’t use someone else’s identity
  • Protect your identity
  • Does it pass the publicity test? (As they well put it, “would you want to see this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or ten years from now?” )
  • Monitor comments

I suppose social media presence is different when it comes to students in a university and employees in a company. Madison follows more the route of caution instead of warning whereas many companies do the reverse. In the professional world, I think it is more common to be warned against something instead of in preparation of something. Perhaps by the time you are working for a legitimate company, you should be well-knowledged on what not to do and when not to do something online.

With the growing presence and need for social media to promote company projects and engage with fans/customers/clients, more attention should be paid to how employees are using social media, whether that is on company time or not. Social media is a growing industry and with anything that grows, rules and regulations constantly need to be updated.