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Published on April 7th, 2014 | by Saurabh Pandey

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Manage Your Employees’ Social Media Behavior & Save Yourself From Embarrassement

Many of you would have read about how an employee of AOL was fired about 6 months back because he was clicking a photograph during a meeting. He was fired in front of other co-workers and about 1000 others connected via a conference call. The email and the audio clip of the conference call was leaked out on social media and it created embarrassment for Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL

This is relevant and critical because due to the increasingly real time nature of social networks and ‘always on’ you never know which whatsapp message or tweet can land your organization in a reputation .

Please also remember that when you are responding to a disgruntled employee on social platforms you are not just responding to the employee- you are also creating an image about yourself for thousands of other prospective employees, existing stakeholders and your customers. So it’s important to respond honestly and professionally.

I have a simplified strategy which I can share with all of you here. The focus here is on how to avoid such situation

1. Monitor- Invest in social media monitoring tool and keep monitoring your brand, trademarks and key stakeholders. Monitor what is being talked about them

2. Have a Reaction Strategy ready- If there is a negative talk about your brand and it seems like growing quickly, you cannot wait for a formal press release. So be ready with a quick deployment format which can be activated in a few hours (or even minutes if need be)

3. Social Media Policy: Every organization needs to have a social media usage policy. This policy should be a very simple guideline which talks about the do’s and don’ts and best practices of how employees should use social media and if they have a confusion who should they connect to. This policy should not be longer than 2 pages, but should be ubiquitous in the organization


4. Creating an internal platform
where employees can actually talk straight to anyone

Having an enterprise class internal social platform works very well. I remember in Google we used to have something called MOMA. You could connect with various people across the world, let your voice be heard by people who matter, appraise your senior and your junior (and get appraised), know about policies, new products, contests etc. Net. Net you would always feel connected with the organization and never perhaps felt the need to talk about an internal issue ‘outside’

5. Creating a platform for ex-employees:

What happens if you become the target of an ex-employee? They could be the ones who may have been dissatisfied at one point in time, they could immediately after resigning talk negative about the organization. There is no perfect solution, but one can avoid this to a large extent by continuing the above mentioned effort and creating a forum for ex-employees.

Again there is a fantastic approach by Google wherein it has created a Global Alumni Platform on Google+. Ex-employees can refer their friends for jobs, they participate in product beta testings, get-together events are organized, many times within Google campuses, opportunity of coming back to Google, discount coupons and what not

Bottomline is that an organization has to create a community out of it’s employee workforce and if the employees always stay participated and recognized, there would be very rare chances that they complain in public

6. However there would still be instances where one would witness an employee outburst online. Without giving any specific one size fit all solution, I would say we need to remember these basic principles:


A. Focus on it getting diffused and not escalating further.

B. Respond professionally and calmly and as quickly as possible

C. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge and admit a mistake

D. State why it (the action which triggered employee’s outburst) was important in the best interest of organization and employees

E. Give links to substantiate your points and links for further discussions (company blog or company forum)

F. Make a closure and take the conversation offline by giving links of company forum or an email id where the discussion can be taken forward

Idea is to present a professional, transparent and honest image about organization. You don’t need any ORM if you can honestly defend your actions. React reasonably quick, state facts,state your commitment towards employees, ask for connecting on email or on links given and close. Taking our example of AOL forward, Tim Armstrong apologized for his behavior in an email sent to all employees and also in public during an interview. But he also defended his action of firing the employee by stating genuine facts (and as far as I understand the fired employee has not been reinstated)


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