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Most Common Social Media Mistakes by Employees and How to Avoid Them

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Employees on social media face different challenges: from wanting to build their professional and personal brand to potentially falling into common pitfalls when it comes to advocating for one’s company. In this article, I will delve into the most common social media mistakes made by employees and provide actionable advice on how to avoid them and prevent them from reoccurring in the future.

Being on social media as an employee can be a double-edged sword. You want to show off your professional achievements, build up your personal brand and prove your expertise — and there are plenty of good reasons why you want to do that, but I’m not going to go into details about that now. At the same time, it’s hard not to step on anybody’s toes when it comes to expressing certain opinions about your industry or speaking up for your company. 

If you’re not social media savvy, you might easily fall for some common pitfalls that can undermine your professional reputation and your company's brand integrity. 

4 common social media mistakes by employees

Over-sharing company information

One of the most critical mistakes employees make is inadvertently sharing sensitive or proprietary company information on social media. Whether it's discussing unreleased products, revealing financial details, or sharing internal strategies, such breaches of confidentiality can have serious repercussions for both the employee and the company.

How to Avoid: Companies should implement clear social media policies that outline what constitutes confidential information. Regular training sessions can help employees understand the importance of discretion and the potential consequences of over-sharing.

Inappropriate content

Social media platforms are spaces for expression and connection, but employees sometimes forget the public and permanent nature of the content they share. Posting inappropriate content, such as offensive jokes, derogatory comments, or unprofessional images, with co-workers or managers can damage an individual's reputation and, by extension, the company's brand.

How to Avoid: Encourage employees to adopt a professional filter for their social media posts, even on personal accounts. Remind them that the internet rarely forgets, and content that might seem harmless in a private context can be damaging if seen by the wrong eyes.

Engaging in public disputes

Engaging in public arguments or disputes on social media, especially on contentious topics, can quickly escalate and reflect poorly on the individual and their employer. Such interactions can alienate customers, clients, and colleagues, harming professional relationships and the company's public image.

How to Avoid: Promote a culture of respect and professionalism. Provide social media guidelines on how to manage disagreements online, suggesting that employees take contentious discussions offline or consult with a supervisor before responding to provocative comments.

Ignoring company social media guidelines

Many companies have social media guidelines, but employees may not always adhere to them, either due to a lack of awareness or, in the worst cases, disregard. This oversight can lead to posts that conflict with the company's messaging or values, creating confusion and potentially damaging the brand.

How to Avoid: Ensure that all employees are familiar with and understand the company's social media guidelines and know where to find them so they can consult them at their convenience. Regularly update these guidelines and provide accessible resources and training to encourage compliance.

How to avoid and prevent typical social media mistakes by employees

When you have a broad pool of employees who are regularly engaging on social media and are also doing so on behalf of your company, what you want is to be able to have a smooth two-way communication to be able to exchange information and content they might want to share. 

When employees advocate for you on social media, they represent your company, which is why it makes sense for you to install a formalized employee advocacy program to manage, facilitate, and measure their efforts. 

Why you should install an employee advocacy program

Implementing a formal employee advocacy program is a proactive solution to support your employees in advocating for the company on social media. And, of course, it will allow you to effectively prevent common mistakes from occurring or reoccurring. 

Establishing an advocacy program means laying down a structured framework for how employees can engage with and represent their company on social media. This, of course, is only one of the (side) benefits you will get from it: at the same time, you’ll be amplifying your brand presence through them, providing tailored content for them to use and safely share online, enhancing your employer brand, expanding social media reach and increasing the number of impressions, etc. 

To prevent common social media mistakes, your advocacy program will clearly define what is encouraged, permissible, and off-limits. This will provide employees with a clear understanding of their roles as brand ambassadors. In addition, it offers continuous education and resources, ensuring employees remain updated on best practices and feel supported in their social media activities. 

Social media is an integral part of the professional world, offering countless opportunities for personal and corporate branding. However, navigating it requires awareness, discretion, and a commitment to maintaining a professional image online. 

By understanding the most common social media mistakes and implementing strategies to avoid them, employees can leverage social media to their advantage, enhancing their careers and contributing positively to their company's brand. Companies, in turn, play a crucial role in guiding and supporting their employees' online behavior, ensuring that social media remains a powerful tool for professional growth and brand advocacy.

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