Blogging and tweeting on social media websites have pros and cons for an organization. Companies utilize blogs in order to promote their products and services along with relaying information about the company to the general public. Employers often encourage their employees to participate in various forms of social media. However, management should be aware of the risks and impact to the company’s reputation should the employee publish something that puts the company is a negative light. Keywords: blogging, social media, reputation
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was right when he blogged about impending layoffs just before announcing them to company employees
Blogging and tweeting can have both positive and negative impacts on the image and reputation of a company. The use of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, allow employers to encourage their employees to participate in blogs in an effort to promote their brand. Some companies even use these websites as a tool to publicize the operations of the organization. By establishing and maintaining their own company website and blog, businesses are able to control the messages, both positive and negative, that are posted. (Dealbook, 2008) In an effort to intercept negative posts from the media and disgruntled employees, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced on the company’s website blog that in order to maintain positive cash flow, the organization will layoff a significant amount of its workforce.
The focus of the company will be developing and improving its product line while ensuring sufficient capital. Elon Musk stated that “we had to say something to prevent articles being written that were not accurate.” (All, 2008) Cake Financial, an investing advice company, published on their company blog immediately after reducing its workforce that it was an “extremely sad day for all of us who have to say goodbye to a group of great people.” (Dealbook, 2008) The company’s CEO, Stephen Carpenter, had drafted the blog and waited until after personally speaking with the employees before publishing the post. Carpenter wanted to make sure that there were no discrepancies as to what and why the layoffs happened. In a statement to the New York Times, Carpenter stated that “our whole company is built on the idea of transparency in investing, so that was a reason why it was important for us to do it.” (Motivateandinspire, 2009)
Employees responsibility when blogging about their company
Employees have a responsibility to be careful about what they publish on social media websites about their company. Privacy laws and regulations related to internet use vary by state. Depending on the nature of the content, the employee could be possibly incriminating him/herself by disclosing private information. From an employer standpoint, employee blogging could negatively impact the reputation of the business if the appropriate policies and procedures are not in place. The employer may also be at risk if the employee publishes information relating to trade secrets, financial issues, or other business related matters. (Welch & Shiff) Employees should be careful if they publish negative comments about their employer, its customers, and its vendors.
Employers typically have zero tolerance with this type of behavior as it can be considered a form of harassment in which the company may subject to legal ramifications (Victor, 2013) The employee risks losing their job and tainting their reputation within the workplace, which may lead to difficulty in obtaining and retaining future employment. The entertainment industry has taken advantage of the posts made on social media blogs. For example, radio stations in the Boston area make prank phone calls on the air referencing previously posted, negative comments regarding clients. The radio personality will reference the content of the blog in an effort to scare or provoke the person being pranked. While these skits may seem comical to the station listener, the effects of the actual prank call may cause harm to a company or an individual.
Employees who blog about their companies do not have an ethical responsibility to disclose their identities Employees posting comments about their employer online do not need to display their name. When employees publish positive comments about their company and its culture, others may ignore the remarks as they may consider the opinions biased. If the employee publishes their name in association with the company, the prospective customer may feel overwhelmed and smothered by knowing the same person is using social media, in addition to traditional methods of advertising, to sell their product or service. On the contrary, when employees publish negative comments about their employer, it make spark a wave of unwanted publicity for the company.
Developing a policy for handling communication of sensitive issues, inside and outside, the company Deleting or retracting online posts that have been published can be impossible. Therefore, companies should develop an internet policy for handling communication of sensitive issues both inside and outside the organization. While the company may want employees to express themselves, guidelines should be established. Some of the areas that need to be addressed in a formal, written policy include: (Guerin)
a. Personal use and abuse of company property and resources
b. Appropriate use of organizations name
c. Applicability of existing company policies
i. Harassment – inappropriate comments
ii. Privacy – disclosing confidential information/trade secrets/financial information/falsifying data/using company logos/using company name to promote products Employers may want to consult with an attorney or human resource specialist in order to ensure that they develop an internet policy that will help to prevent any negative public relations regarding the company and its products and services.
Since social media is becoming an essential part of the business world, companies should invest in learning about the rewards and consequences of using this source. By obtaining an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages, the company will be more equipped in handling negative (as well as positive) public relations and have a plan for damage control for repairing their tarnished reputation.
Blogging the Layoff. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://www.itbusinessedge.com/cm/blogs/all/blogging-the-layoff/?cs=11727 Employee Posts on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Blogs | Nolo.com. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/employee-posts-facebook-myspace-twitter-32954.html The Layoffs Will Be Blogged. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/in-era-of-blog-sniping-companies-shoot-first/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 Newest blog topic from CEOs: Layoffs | Article | Link Grabber | Leadership training, management skills, employee motivation: ManageBetter.biz. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://www.motivateandinspire.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=04BF7B8C765E455DA06A7B6781ED0847&nm=Link Grabber&type=Publishing&mod=Publications::Article&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=7C0FA76B4F4A4E53B4D97C3A4B2487EC&AudID=AA83ED248A3241A5AE080E2B6DED1F5F Off-the-clock Harassment Can be Costly: What Employers Need to Know. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://www.gshllp.com/60-second-memos/off-the-clock-harassment-can-be-costly-what-employers-need-to-know Tesla Motors replaces CEO, plans layoff – CNET. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/news/tesla-motors-replaces-ceo-plans-layoff/ The rules of company blogging: Avoiding employee misuse and abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://www.thehrspecialist.com/11584/The_rules_of_company_blogging_Avoiding_employee_misuse_and_abuse.hr?cat=&sub_cat=