Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't Let Social Networking Damage Your Personal Brand

The following were actually posted by employees on social media sites from their workstations, during business hours:

“Staff meeting is over. Thanks for sucking the life out of me–again.” [Brandon]
Ummm, hello, Brandon. Are you really that unhappy? Are you aware that your message can be read as: Brandon is a reactive, whiny drama-king who lacks the gumption to leave a job that sucks?

“Just hanging out here on Facebook – waiting for them to give me something to work on.” [Allison]
Really, Allison? Did you leave your brain at home this morning? I’d suggest you will find it hidden underneath that sack of ambition, which you also forgot to bring to work today.

And this now-infamous example from of a young woman who was fired by her Facebook-friend-boss:
OMG I HATE MY JOB!!! My boss is a total pervvy wanker always making me do $hit stuff just to pi$$ me off!! WANKER!!

Obviously, she forgot that she had Friend’d her boss. Do take a moment and click over to read the boss’ response, which is classic!

The stories of so-called professionals getting fired, suspended, or disciplined as a result of what they posted, Tweeted, updated, chatted, or shared on social media sites are becoming more frequent and more outrageous. An article last Fall on Mashable, citing stats from a Proofpoint study, indicate that roughly 1 out of every 8 companies (12%) have fired an employee for reasons related to social networking. The rate of occurrence has doubled in a year’s time.

This is only going to worsen as GPS/location-based apps (like Foursquare and Brightkite) that run on our iPhones and Blackberries tell the world (and our employer) where we are.
Remember: In many cases, your phones are paid for by your company so it’s not hard to imagine the following exchange in the all-too-near future--

Boss: Dave, you weren’t really attending your aunt’s funeral yesterday, now were you?

Dave: What do you mean?

Boss: Well, unless they had the funeral at Wrigley Field, it looks like you enjoyed a Cubs double-header.

Dave (now perspiring): No way. I swear.

Boss (tossing a screen print at his soon-to-be fired employee): Dave, it’s all right here on the GPS report that we get from your Blackberry. And you might want to think about turning off Foursquare when you’re playing hooky – from your next job.

Do you know your company’s social media policy? Are employees allowed to spend time on sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube while at work? Or are such practices forbidden?

We can complain about “Big Brother” policies by employers. We can cry about how it’s wrong for management to “spy” on us. But here’s what it all boils down to: when you are on company time, you are on the company dime. The employer makes the rules and, when you accept a job, you accept their rules. So don’t allow your social media activities to undermine your success. Be smart and be informed – or your next Tweet may be in search of a job!

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Anonymous SacchettiSays said...

I have to agree that employees need to be very careful on what they post on the social media profiles during work hours, and about work in general. But how do you feel about potential employers judging applicants according to their SOCIAL profile? One tip I read recently was to create a second "professional" Facebook profile that can be found using your real name and can be seen by anyone. Thoughts?

8:55 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thank you for joining the conversation! I appreciate your comment and the time you took to post it.

Regarding your question, I think we all have to recognize that nearly everything we post is visible to almost EVERYONE. We can debate whether it's fair or right for companies to look at a candidate's social profile, but the fact is that it happens. Aspiring job seekers can whine, complain or adapt. Or ... they can create an alternate online identity, as you've suggested. I guess it comes down to two things: 1- how badly you need a job; 2- are we willing to be intentional and vigilant about our online personal brand?

I have a post that I written about this topic. Stay tuned!

11:46 AM

Anonymous promotional products said...

I love this post! It's so true... if you are not careful you will get caught. but seriously, you really have to be an idiot to do these things.

12:13 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


One would think so!

Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated, as always.


1:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will be lengthy, but I feel strongly!!

I think the first two should be helpful to management... instead of getting offended, they should find a way to combat these issues. Think "Undercover Boss!"

Example: I've sat in some pretty awful staff meetings where the only discussion was about last night's "American Idol." Maybe management can see this as a way to keep the fluff to a minimum, or find some way of putting life back into the meetings. (and the Facebooker may already be looking for a new job anyway!)

For the 2nd one, Is the girl even in a position where she can hunt for work to do? Maybe she has already asked someone for something to work on (multiple times), and they either have nothing, or said they'll have something in 5 minutes (which often turns into 5 hours). Simply telling her to "go find something to do" isn't very helpful either, as it provides no guidelines. In some low level jobs, there simply isn't much to do in down time aside from answering phones and cleaning/organizing. A manager could see that this employee may be ready to take on more work, and assign some extra tasks.

While Facebook isn't exactly the best place to turn in those situations, management should see that those two comments reflect on something THEY can attempt to fix. It's highly possible both of those employees have already tried to fix their situations. (I speak from experience!)

12:00 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thanks for stating your case. Here at Marketing Genius blog, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. While I respect your opinion, I still feel that the choice of forum by the persons in question was less than ideal.


11:43 PM


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