Social Media Matters: Especially In Business
The ubiquitous reality of social media is here. The majority of workers spend the majority of their days on a computer or smart phone with their personal Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts open and accessible.
As more and more corporations, companies and governments socially engineer students, workers and families to interact with their mobile phones, Social Media engagement is just a click away.
Considering the current climate of American culture and the upcoming elections, taking a look at your Social Media Policy might be worth your time. If not, LinkedIn or the Supreme Court might do it for you.
Here are a few examples of how Social Media can impact your business and workplace culture.
Meet author, speaker and coach Heather Hakes. She's a small business owner from Colorado. One way small business owners make money is to find their target audience. Heidi has chosen LinkedIn as one of her ways to find and follow her target audience. She is also on Facebook, Instagram and other Social Media sites.
Recently she had a post (with picture below) removed from LinkedIn followed by her professional LinkedIn Profile Page. Not because of hate speech or threats, rather for voicing her opinion on how a piece of legislation is impacting her personal and professional life.
Hakes and I have recently exchanged emails and are working on a mutual time for an interview over the next week so she can tell her story and explain how LinkedIn's Social Media Policy is impacting her business and life.
Next meet Monte Besler of FracN8R. He challenged a position on Climate Change and has been outright banned from LinkedIn. Click here to hear his story.
"It's just gone, been taken down by the LinkedIn police," Besler said. "I've tried to contact them to ask why, but there's no contact information anywhere to talk to someone about this from what I could find.”
The examples of Hakes and Besler are people who own their own business so a Social Media Policy is more than likely a mash-up how they feel in the moment and a basic set of principles and or a code that works within their industry. But maybe not. This is one of the benefits and pitfalls of being a small business owner - the freedom to do and say what you want on Social Media.
Employees and government employees are a totally different story than the small business owner. Employees actions, words and pictures on Social Media can and have impacted employers, furthermore, can create discrimination cultures or even abuse tax dollars for their personal branding gain.
Here is a screen shot of a hybrid account from an employee named Rach Trueman from the New Skills Academy and a side business. This was the first thing I saw Saturday morning when I logged into LinkedIn.
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Now if you look beyond the pic and check out her profile, which we did for a hot second, she is an aspiring lingerie model in addition to her role at the New Skills Academy. Technically, this would be a gray area for an organization since Trueman is moonlighting as a model. However, she is on a professional Social Media site and her main employer listed is New Skills Academy.
Is the New Skills Academy OK with this type of post? Does the New Skills Academy receive government money? These are just a couple basic questions that should be asked after every post linking to a professional environment.
One potential fix is Trueman would have to have two professional accounts and use one while at one office and another while clocked in at the other.
There is a significant value in having your name attached to a company, corporation, non profit, organization or government agency. Significant.
Honestly, I didn't check to see if the New Skills Academy was a real place or not, I made up my mind after I saw her name.
Now check out this LinkedIn generated post and notification about an employee's post.
In this example, LinkedIn doesn't mention the employee, rather the organization. This example may be the only one needed to understand why your organization needs a social media policy scrub or update.
In a world of impulsive posts on polarizing political issues like Roe v. Wade, Gun Control and HIPAA Laws, businesses and organizations can quickly become in the middle of a hot mess because one employee got fired up after a couple martini Happy Hour.
The reality is that Social Media networks are a communication tool and are creating partnerships and awareness with customers all over the planet, as well as professional organizations.
Now let's look at the Air Force. They recently were involved in a legal dispute over Social Media. Now that there is a Federal Precedent from a Military branch, here's a breakdown of what may be coming to a government Social Media site near you.
The quick Spoiler Alert is that the Air Force can no longer delete comments or ban users from its social media sites based solely on their opinions. This comes via the terms of a settlement with a retired pilot, who had filed a federal lawsuit after his comment criticizing the service was removed from the Air Force’s senior enlisted leader’s Facebook page, according to a commentary in the Wall Street Journal.
Terence J. Pell, president of The Center for Individual Rights, a nonprofit group that seeks to limit federal and state government power is behind the post in discussion. The Center for Individual Rights represented former Air Force Maj. Rick Rynearson, who describes himself on Twitter as a “Retired military officer who refused an order to assassinate an American citizen & constitutional rights activist who has defended the Constitution in court.”
Rynearson also received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat “V” for a March 20, 2003 mission in which he served as an AC-130U co-pilot, according to his award citation. He and the rest of the aircraft’s crew supported special operations forces, who were outnumbered in a battle against Iraqi troops.
The social media issue at hand first arose in November 2020, when Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass wrote a post about Thanksgiving on her official Facebook page, in which she urged airmen to think about what they are thankful for, according to the story in the Wall Street Journal.
“Mr. Rynearson replied that he was thankful that other branches of the military were concentrating on conducting warfare so that the Air Force could concentrate on ‘making sure we all feel good about ourselves’ and that ‘nobody is offended or feels like a victim,’” Pell wrote.
At the end of the day, the solution can be found in the level of authenticity, intent and language.
The more manufactured the presentation the more potential for people to call you out. The more shallow spin spent on distracting from the issue, the larger the potential for a viral post not in your favor.
The first step in fixing any social media issues is to create the infrastructure needed in order to examine outcomes in speech, mental well-being, and civic trust in meta and real time. Without that, your organization, company or government branch will be prevented from addressing many of the major problems Social Media platforms create.
Jason Spiess is an multi-award-winning journalist, entrepreneur, podcaster and content consultant. Spiess has over 30 years of media experience in broadcasting, journalism, producing and principal ownership in media companies.
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