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Social Media in the Workplace: Dos and Dont’s

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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!


Social Media #Advice Career Advice Lifestyle
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Join the conversation:

This is SUCH important advice. Social media has blurred the lines between work and play in such a big way, and it seems like we as a society are still agreeing on how much is too much. These are sensible, comprehensive tips that I will definitely be consulting next time I post or tweet.

In the meantime, I really want to hear people's horror stories!

This list of Do's and Dont's is fantastic for the work world or for people in college! Too many people forget that all of their information is accessible as soon as they click accept. Even before the workforce, the information you post can come back to haunt you. I do not think employers will look too kindly on a past post about skipping class or pictures from a party.

Social media has become such a norm for us we often forget that certain things are not acceptable to say. This is really important, great advice for a new comer to the work world, and even a refresher for some veterans. Wonderful job!

Elana Gross
Elana Gross

This is fantastic advice!!! I was literally nodding along to each point. Great job, Alex!

Elana Gross
Elana Gross

When I was an intern at The White House we had an orientation meeting on the first day with every single intern (over 100 people). One of the coordinators pulled down a projector screen and asked if John Doe* was there. He said yes and then she brought up one of his Facebook photos of him playing beer pong. She asked if he thought it was a good representation of the President. The answer was no. She kept on going and by the end everyone understood the point of the exercise.

*Name has been changed

Really important to take into account our online image, especially in the workplace!! Great article!

Two months ago a girl called my work to say that one of hour product was broken. Then she started bashing the compagny telling me that we had awful customer service and that she understood the clients that left us. When I looked into her profile, I saw that she was actually an employee AND she Worked in the departement where they are suppose to bring new clients!All of our calls are recorded. (womp womp)

Just today I was on twitter and this girl was posting about her wild behaviors and 8 hours later she was asking people via her personal account to follow her employers twitter account. (ish)

I hide things that could be potentially seen as bad even if they may not be too.

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