So you’ve started your new job, met all your co-workers, settled on your new work uniform, and found the best coffee in a two-block radius, when it pops up on Facebook—a friend request. It’s your supervisor (who by the way is only a year older than you) and she wants to be friends on Facebook. What should you do?
We’ve all been there. How much is too much with your co-workers, your supervisor, and your boss on Twitter and Facebook? How can we manage the delicate world of constant sharing and updating in the workplace? Each company culture will have different standards, but below are some simple tips for keeping it clean and friendly at work:
Do: Help shed a positive light on your company
Many companies, especially smaller organizations, like to use your network to promote what they are doing and keep people engaged. So it’s great to add all your new co-workers, as long as those compromising tweets from college have been deleted.
Don’t: Complain about work
It’s Thursday night and you have to stay late to finish an expense report while your friends are out tasting margaritas at a new happy hour hotspot. Yes, that’s very frustrating. No, you should not share that anywhere on the internet, particularly in a public forum where your boss could see. Call your mom, best friend, or boyfriend on the way home from work and keep your complaints out of the virtual world.
Do: Feel out the tone of what the company already does
On your first day of work, you probably took stock of what other employees were wearing to plan future outfits. Use a similar method for deciding how to navigate using social media at work. If you are at a law firm, they probably have a different culture surrounding Facebook than a trendy startup. Use your co-workers’ practices as a guide.
Don’t: Be too casual
Make sure that your posts reflect the best version of you. That means no catty comments, snarky replies that are too casual, or mentions of hot button topics like religion or politics that might be inappropriate for some workplaces. Keep your language clean and professional and save the “Yo, what’s up” text for your roommate, not your supervisor.
Do: Be proactive and thoughtful
Make conscious decisions about which of your social profiles are public and which are private. A lot of new graduates choose to make Twitter public and Facebook private, but make those choices based on what you are most comfortable with, which histories are most presentable, and what you can stick with. Take an afternoon to go through everything you are going to make public and eliminate things you wouldn’t want a superior to see (this includes you bashing on your company or bemoaning the interview which got you the job, which a friend of mine did!)
Don’t: Play hooky and tell
This seems obvious, but it’s also an easy trap to fall into. Whether it’s cutting work for a doctor’s appointment to sleep late or phoning in sick so you can catch a movie, make sure you don’t post about your adventures where anyone might see. If you and your spouse are catching a long lunch disguised as a trip to the dentist, put your phone away.
Do: Be authentic
Don’t let your Instagram become a regram of everything your boss posts. Make sure that it’s your voice in the status updates and your perspective in your photos. There is a fine balance to be struck between being you and being inappropriate. Look to your new peers who have been at the company for a few months or years to see how they are walking that line.
Don’t: Post about something illegal
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s absolutely the most important thing to avoid in the workplace. Whether it’s sharing a cocktail recipe if you’re under 21-years-old, pictures with drug paraphernalia, or a silly pose with a stolen street sign that has your name on it—don’t post about it publicly. It’s one of the quickest ways to get yourself fired, and might also land you in jail.
When in doubt, use The New York Times test: If you wouldn’t want it on the front page of the The New York Times, don’t put it anywhere on the web!
Have a horror story or best practices advice for keeping your public social media clean? Share in the comments below!