What happens on Facebook doesn't stay on Facebook or any other social networking site for that matter. Businesses use social media sites to develop their brands, reach customers and recruit job candidates; employees use these sites for personal and business connections. While media sites can be a powerful tool, companies need to set clear and specific standards for social media usage and guidance. 

Be wise when you socialize: Social media in the workplace

What happens on Facebook doesn't stay on Facebook or any other social networking site for that matter. Businesses use social media sites to develop their brands, reach customers and recruit job candidates; employees use these sites for personal and business connections. While media sites can be a powerful tool, companies need to set clear and specific standards for social media usage and guidance.

Stephanie Gorans, senior recruiter for Ceridian Centralized Staffing, embraces Ceridian's social media policy and the advantages of having a documented policy in place. "More and more people are using social media -- from recent college graduates searching for job leads and more experienced job seekers networking on LinkedIn to organizations' recruiting and marketing staff," she says. "Companies such as Ceridian that have a social media policy can reach their target audience faster whether it is job candidates or customers."

Gorans adds that the key to using social media appropriately is to be consistent, genuine and a good representative of your organization. "It's crucial to maintain a good positive company image when posting content on social media sites," she advises. "A few wrong words could do a lot of damage."

Some companies use social media background checks to screen potential job candidates' Internet presence to identify any illegal and socially irresponsible behavior. Ceridian has a solution in the works that will provide its customers with a service to conduct social media screening in a fair, nondiscriminatory, Fair Credit Reporting Act and Title VII compliant manner.

"Many companies are trying to find different ways to manage social media and stay in compliance," adds John Whyte, Ceridian product manager. "There was a time when companies didn't want all employees to have telephones, and email was only allowed for internal use. We've seen a gradual acceptance regarding phone and email usage in the workplace and are seeing it more and more with social media. For example, recruiting solutions that link to job boards and social media sites, such as LinkedIn, are gaining more traction with organizations."

Whyte also says that social media can serve as a knowledge portal within organizations to help new hires and existing employees share information collaboratively. "Some organizations use social media for company training, such as providing answers to employees who have questions about a company's product," he says. "Social media is also a great tool for sharing information on how things work within an organization."

Know what's socially acceptable
Social media use continues to explode. According to an Inc.com article, Facebook surpassed Google web searches in January 2010 with more than 700 million users. LinkedIn and Twitter also continue to grow as do other smaller social media sites. With all the conversations in the social media space, it's important to spell out what your employees can and can't do in the workplace and at home. If you terminate employees for something they've posted on Facebook or on another social network, the reasons need to be outlined in your company's social media policy. If these are not specified, the company could be subject to a wrongful termination suit. The article also recommends:

  • Organizations should have an employee social media policy that is not broad but is outlined clearly.
  • Businesses do not publish content that is copyrighted or trademarked.
  • Companies use full disclosure to abide by Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
  • Employers don't share user data from social media sites inappropriately.

Without a doubt, social media is becoming more widely used and accepted as a legitimate corporate resource. Contact your Ceridian representative to learn how social media strategies can improve your organization's productivity and bottom line. More information will be coming soon on our LinkedIn product page launch, which will provide Ceridian customers a voice to post their product recommendations.