With Merging of Work/Home Selves, Written 'Social' Policy a Good Idea

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There used to be such clear boundaries between our home and work selves. But now the most successful Twitterers post about both, and I recently read a Washington Post Q&A with Lori Goler, Facebook's head of HR, that strongly encourages more two-way openness.

Goler said that she admires the "authenticity in leadership style" from both Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. "If you just look at their Facebook posts, you can see it publicly... It allows people to feel like they know them personally. There's a warmth there...

"[Sandberg] always says, 'Bring your whole self to work.' We use Facebook as an enterprise tool internally, so we are a very connected community of people inside the company. It's not like 'this is who I am at home and this is who I am at work.' That has been really empowering. I haven't really worked that way in the past. It brings the team much closer together, and it's great for collaboration."

During a recent SIPA webinar, Matthew Cibellis, director of programming, live & virtual events, for Education Week, was asked: How do your writers and editors handle the mix of personal and business in their social media?

"At Education Week we have a written policy in place for best social media practices," replied Cibellis. "We do have people using their own brand—they're building their own brand as journalists. Some of them are using ones that have their personal names attached, some use their blog names—some use both."

(Diane Schwartz, SVP & group publisher, media communications group, Access Intelligence, seconded that idea of having a written social media policy in place "stating expectations.")

It turns out that Cibellis, who will speak at two SIPA 2016 sessions next week, was a perfect person to ask. His Twitter feed mixes business—"Walk away with new info on measuring #SocialMedia from @JaclynBaldovin & me at #SIPADC16"—with pleasure—his visit to Boxwood Winery last weekend.

"As Twitter has developed for some of these reporters, they've used it in different ways," Cibellis continued. "And I don't want to [say] they've cleaned up their Twitter accounts, but they've figured it out. They know that they have a public-facing crowd for the company, so they're quite aware of that.

"You have to remember—they're using their Twitter handles to promote their own journalism. They want it to look good. They also want it to be personable, but they want to be a voice. And that has to be the voice they want to present publicly, so we're not very worried. We haven't had any problems."

It all makes sense, sort of. Millennials started offering up their lives on social media, and the rest of us followed. Given the company she represents, we shouldn't be surprised that Goler has taken this even further.

She said the personal conversations that are encouraged at Facebook help them to work together and "helps the business, and it just gives you a sense for who's in the room and what they're really bringing to the room... It leads to a place where you have really authentic interactions and conversations." (Authentic seems to be a big word at Facebook.)

I once asked Andy Swindler, president of Astek Consulting, about this. At SIPA 2016, he will speak on a great panel in a content marketing session—he's writing a book about purposeful storytelling in business.

"To some extent, like all networking, it's not all about business," he said. "Our personalities do come into play [in the professional world] especially with a company like ours that does creative consulting. You'll see @aswindler at the bottom of my correspondences, both personal and professional. So along with the consulting I do you'll see the burger I posted on Foursquare last week.

"Part of bringing social media into work is celebrating our personalities. We're not all automatons sitting in a factory, It matters. That's often how people decide who to work with, and [social media can be] a reflection of who we are.

"That being said, companies should have a social media policy that will define whether or not employees can use their personal channels to help build the brand. You want a series of guidelines on how you should do that."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…