Dumb ways companies are using Social Media

I’m all about incorporating social media at work, and even having a policy in place before unleashing your yahoos on social media. If you don’t have a policy in place (according to your culture) you could wind up spending most of your time trying to put out fires that can be avoided.

Social Media can be a great tool for many uses in the workplace from customer service, to employee engagement, helping with your wellness initiatives and most of all company branding. IF.DONE.CORRECTLY.

In David Gewirtz’ article “Five Ways Companies Use Social Media and Look Like Jerks” he shares some great examples on a few companies that have made themselves look like complete utter fools:

1. Firing all 1,300 employees over a mass email – Recently, Aviva, the sixth largest insurance company in the world, accidentally fired all 1,300 employees in its investment unit via email. Instead of sending a pink-slip email to one employee, Bloomberg reports a “clerical error” resulted in an email informing everyone to “turn over company property as they left the building”. (Even if it was a clerical error, you just don’t fire folks through email. That’s as bad as breaking up with someone via text)

2. Demanding Employees Facebook Passwords - The jerk move is this: if you ask employees for their Facebook password, it will come back to haunt you. There will be lawsuits. After all, one of your less self-controlled employees might get ahold of the passwords you demanded and choose to post as if they were another employee. Hilarity would not ensue. Worse, Facebook now has email. Many people are using their Facebook email account as their primary email password reset account for — wait for it — things like bank accounts. (Do you really want the liability of having access to your employees’ bank accounts — and the liability of what happens when some teeny-bopper in your employ decides to go shopping for new shoes using the access you’ve accidentally granted because you were stupid enough to insist the Facebook password was on an employment application which was stored in an unlocked file cabinet with all the others? It’s a HUGE liability).

3. Not letting employees post their job status on LinkedIn – Some companies are now demanding employees practice good taste on social networks. But they don’t call it that. They insist that employees post disclaimers or avoid posting anything that shows their affiliation with their workplace.  From a legal point of view this is derived from the concept of apparent authority, where messaging from an employee in certain circumstances can be considered a formal statement by the company. (Jerk move? Because LinkedIn is becoming not only the de facto resume of record, but it’s often how we all learn more about other people and their professional backgrounds. If an employee were to leave off their time at your company, that would be a gap in their resume)

4. Deleting comments and questions from your Facebook page – Many companies have figured out they can use Facebook for marketing/ So they put up a Facebook page, leave space for comments and questions, and then — when they actually get comments and questions — either don’t answer them or delete them. (Social Media engagement is meant to be a two-way conversation. Using these tools to talk to your customers as an additional customer support and even market research tool. So, if you put up a Facebook page and enable customers to post comments and questions, monitor them. If a customer asks a question, answer it)

5. Creating involvement devices and not expecting involvement – Creating a Twitter account (think McDonald’s and the Twitter #Hashtag they created #McStories hoping to involve their customers. And involve they did. They started getting a lot more than they bargained for. Consumers were talking about more than their bad Mickey D’s experience, they were down-right mean. (The dumb move this time was with customers who went above and beyond complaints, and moved into a place where some consumers said such awful things that no dialog could have helped)

Listening online, to see what folks are saying about your company or brand is key. And having a plan in place of how to respond is crucial in keeping that dialog open.

Or, I suppose we could just stick our head in the sand.