Employee Social Business Etiquette 101: How Not to Get Fired Using Social Tools at Work

Employee Social Business Etiquette 101:
How Not to Get Fired Using Social Tools at Work
By Suzanne Livingston

Since the launch of Facebook in 2004, people have quickly adapted to using social networks as a primary method of communication with friends and family. During this time, users have developed cultural norms and expectations related to proper social media use and etiquette. For example, you might wince at the thought of being tagged in an unglam shot on Facebook, or copying and pasting a tweet without giving proper “RT” credit. It is acceptable, however, to use an emoticon if you think your dry humor may be misinterpreted or to create a “Dream Wedding” board on Pinterest even if you might still have the “Single” box checked on Facebook.

Coinciding with the evolution of social media etiquette in our personal lives is the emergence of social media tools in our work lives. It’s difficult to find a company that doesn’t engage on social platforms in some way. We often think of typical examples such as the marketing department manning an official Twitter account or HR using LinkedIn as a recruitment tool. But truly forward-thinking companies are implementing enterprise social networks that span the entire organization. These enterprise social networks work behind the firewall and provide social tools that allow employees to share information, collaborate with teams, find experts and break down organizational silos. The use of enterprise social tools is growing: Forrester Research estimates the market opportunity for social software is expected to exceed $6 billion by 2016.

Social tools are no longer a millennial thing. According to the 2013 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project from MIT Sloan Management Review, baby boomers are seeing increasing value in social; seventy percent see it as a powerful tool while eighty-one percent of Gen Xers feel the same way.

So, it’s clear that social tools are invading the workplace. For employees, this is a good thing: social tools will make it easier to do our jobs. However, it’s important that employees understand how to properly use them. While organizations often provide training on how to use enterprise social networks, it can be difficult to understand the proper etiquette of such tools.

To start, employees should have a basic understanding of the underlying goals an organization is trying to achieve by implementing a social platform. Often it comes down to providing a more productive and efficient way for employees to complete their work and guiding those employees on the organization’s expectations.Enterprise social networks typically have a combination of the following basic elements:

  • -Employee profiles
  • -Communities
  • -Blogs
  • -Mail
  • -Activities
  • -Wikis
  • -Files
  • -Forums
  • -Polls and Surveys
  • -Chat
We’re well versed in using these elements in our personal lives, from creating Facebook profiles, chatting with friends over IM or commenting on online forums. However, translating these tools to the workplace does require additional consideration when using them to collaborate with other colleagues, managers and direct reports.

In an upcoming issue of The Social Media Monthly’s print magazine, I’ll go over tips and tricks to help employees avoid committing a social faus pax with the incorrect use of social tools, with the end goal of exploring how they can make a more productive, efficient work environment. I’ll include examples around building a profile on a company social media platform, communicating effectively through IM and sharing information both internally and externally. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, watch out for those #tbt pics.

Suzanne Livingston is Senior Product Manager at IBM Social Business.

Photo Credit: somenice via Photo Pin | Creative Commons