14 Best Strategies for Approaching a Delicate Social Media Situation With an Employee

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Question: How do you approach a delicate social media scenario in which your team member posts something inappropriate to their personal social media? Do you immediately terminate them or work together to figure out what to do?

Be Clear and Concise

“The best teams work with open communication and without beating around the bush. If a team member posts something inappropriate on social media, confront them immediately and clearly explain to them why their post was unacceptable. Treat the situation as it should be treated (lightly or sternly depending on the scenario), and get to the point of why they should not post in this manner again.”

Unless It Involves the Business, Use a Light Touch

“I don’t believe businesses should dictate standards for their employee’s personal social media — there’s a boundary between work and the personal that should be respected. That said, if the employee posts something that threatens to blow back on the company, I would intervene to discuss it with them, and remind them that no employee is more important than the company as a whole.”

Stay Calm and Lead

“It depends on how bad the offense is. I can think of a few situations where termination could be warranted. But I think the most important thing is not to overreact or make assumptions. First, calm down. Blame for this issue could be shared by policies, miscommunications, or other variables. Then, talk privately and hear their side. Only then, decide on the right response.”

Address It Immediately

“Whatever the outcome — whether it is termination or some type of reprimand — the most important thing to do is to address it immediately with the team member so you can remove it from social media before it creates a public relations nightmare for the company. It’s important to use a formal social media policy as the basis for the discussion and punishment.”

Discuss and Evaluate the Situation

“While it depends on the actual subject matter, there may be times when just discussing it with your employee creates an opportunity for reinforcing an existing social media policy or illustrates why you should formalize a policy and initiate training for your staff. The employee could have genuinely not realized what their post did in terms of brand reputation. “

Take Preventive Meaures

“As a rule, it’s best to discuss the situation with the team member and make sure they understand that everything they post reflects on the company. Only in a very extreme case could I see terminating someone on the spot. It’s also best to take preventive measures by setting clear guidelines for this type of issue up front. When you do this, you can usually avoid this type of problem.”

Protect Yourself

“I like my people, but all of them are in an industry where they better know what kind of impact social media can have. And if they don’t, it’s a clue that there are worse mistakes to be made down the line. They would expect me to gauge the reaction and protect my business, and that could mean termination if it were necessary. In general, I’ll tolerate tastelessness, but not hatefulness.”

If You Work in Social Media, Terminate Them Immediately

“As the CEO of a social media platform, I expect my team members to be socially savvy. This means they should have a clear understanding of what is inappropriate to post — even on a personal page. If something is over the line, we cut that team member. If he or she couldn’t figure out that the content was inappropriate, we can’t rely on that team member to represent our company.”

Think Carefully

“Instant termination is not something that ever interests me, though I also work with a small group and everyone knows each other pretty well. Damage control should begin immediately. Talk to them, find out if they will simply remove the offending piece, and insist on a public apology if it has gained traction. Of course, termination may be the only option if they aren’t receptive to that.”

Be Critical, Not Unfair

“Executives and upper management should already understand the impact social media can have on the perception of a business, but normal team members often forget they also represent the company. Instead of reacting brashly to an inappropriate post, be critical and use your better judgement. Weigh the seriousness of the offense, and be fair and understanding. Remember they are still an individual.”

Discuss and Train

“Every issue involving social media should become a point of discussion that is then incorporated into a larger company-wide discussion and training session. When an employee posts something inappropriate, it typically means there could be bigger issues that need to be addressed as to why they would do that. Terminating does not fix those bigger issues.”

Ask Them to Create a Business Profile

“I encountered this situation this year. An employee had pictures on her profile that did not align with our core values and company reputation. She managed our social media campaign. We met and I suggested that she create a business profile with her company email for our communications. Then, I walked through her profile and pointed out inappropriate content. My points were well-received.”

Set Expectations

“The real key is to set expectations for staff about what is expected as part of your organization. Are they missing deadlines yet posting pictures of date night with their significant other? Prioritize what is important and set the tone for the culture of your organization up front. The basic elementary-school rule of getting your work finished and playing nice works 99 percent of the time.”

Take Stock of the Damage

“It really depends on what the teammate posts, but I will always try to get his or her version of the story. If the post ultimately goes against the company values, I would terminate the relationship. But it is important to evaluate and try to find a solution that suits all parties first.”