Monday, June 27, 2011

“Twitter is like making a press statement”

Social Media Today published some eye-opening stats on social media’s penetration into the public consciousness:

  • One out of every six minutes spent online is on a social network
  • 82 percent of 18-29 year olds use at least one form of social networking
  • 46 million Americans check their social media profiles daily
  • 96 percent of Americans use Facebook
  • 73 percent of the US internet population visits Facebook each month
  • People send approximately 140 millions tweets per day
  • Yet, 41 percent of companies report they have no staff dedicated to social media

Given the increasing prevalence of social media in society, it is inevitable that abuse by employees will become more of a problem. In a recent survey of businesses, Osterman Research and Proofpoint (as reported by USAToday’s TechnologyLive Blog) concluded that the best strategy to combat employee misuse of social media is a combination of employee trust, social media policies, and educating employees on the use of their best judgment when communicating online.

As to this last point, comedian Louis C.K. said the following in a recent interview by CNN when asked for his thoughts on Twitter:

I mean, Gilbert Gottfried, he’s been saying a whole lot worse for years than he said on Twitter, and then when he said something on Twitter, he lost his job. He lost his livelihood! You know, it’s f---ed up. Twitter is like making a press statement. It’s very sober, and it’s not funny, and the s--- just comes out very dry, and people get upset.

Do your employees understand the risks they are taking by posting their unfiltered thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites? Do you know what your rights are as an employer when you learn that an employee has said something embarrassing to your organization on a social media site? These questions, and more, will be answered in the upcoming HR and Social Media: Practical and Legal Guidance, to be published in the coming weeks by Thompson Publishing. If you’re in Las Vegas at SHRM’s Annual Conference, please stop by Thompson’s booth (1468) for more information.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or