Love it or hate it, social media is a serious concern for HR in every industry. Here we offer tips to more effectively manage social media and harness its constructive potential.

For Managers

Set Clear — and Reasonable–Rules

Set clear rules for social media use in the workplace, including time limits. A time limit — say, thirty minutes per day of personal social media use — can be used for the purpose of establishing a fair and defined “starting point” to work with employees.

Restrictions may have to go further for those who are clearly spending too much time on social media during business hours. Also, offer a brief statement on expectations for appropriate social media use — are employees expected to communicate via social media? Are they expected to have professional profiles on certain platforms? Etc.

Model Good Behavior

Be the change you wish to see in professional social media habits. This means maintaining whatever professional profiles you’d like your employees to utilize, engaging in professional groups, and promoting your brand in a way that’s natural and human.

This can include sharing pictures of a newly redone office space, sharing updates about an event or new product you’re genuinely excited about, etc. This does not mean selling. Don’t try to push your product or service on your personal social profiles, and make it clear that your employees aren’t expected to, either.

Make it Constructive

Social media has a lot of constructive potentials. First and foremost, it’s a great communication tool, and one of your employees are likely already familiar with. More and more, social media is becoming integrated into the workplace — FingerCheck offers an option to clock in via Twitter.

Get Visual

Instagram is huge right now in social media. Other visual tools such as Pinterest and Polyvore are also increasingly important. The social media audience is all about the visual. Use this to your advantage, and showcase your product, your office, your events, even your business neighborhood. Do some looking on these networks to stay on top of the latest trends in organizing, offices, events, and more.

For Employees

Create Professional Profiles

What may have seemed appropriate to tag — or post — freshman year of college can easily come back to haunt young professionals (even if it’s not necessarily racy — bad breakup poetry, anyone? Or proud descriptions of your latest ramen noodle “recipe”?).

Any professional whose been on social media for a substantial period of time knows that skeletons in the closet come with the territory. Strange posts from that distant relative who’s a little off, the remnants of a relationship gone bad, bachelor party pics, you name it.

Of course, you can limit your personal exposure by taking advantage of privacy settings and only accept professional contacts on LinkedIn. Or, you can do what many professionals are doing, and create separate professional profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other major social networks.

It takes time, but it opens up a new line of communication with professional contacts. It also allows you to create a new, more focused filter for consuming and sharing media. Finally, if done right, it saves you from having to “shut down” friend requests from well-meaning professional contacts.

Use Your Profile for Good

Want to be more visible in your company? Use social media to stand out from the crowd. Sharing office life pictures, postings for job openings, and other business-related stuff is a great way to demonstrate engagement and get noticed. Your managers will appreciate your enthusiasm. This can be especially helpful if you work remotely — it’s a way to stay on the radar even if you’re not there in person.

Avoid Controversy

This may be obvious but generally try to avoid posting about things like politics on any account you use professionally. News items should be from reputable sources that are as neutral as possible.

You don’t want to put your contacts — especially any who may work beneath you — in a position where they feel uncomfortable. Don’t forget — things you like may also show up in your feed, so again: avoid interacting with material that’s inflammatory.

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