Monday, December 12, 2011

Lawyers, larps*, and lousy heavy metal: a social media lesson

I spend a lot of time writing and speaking about social media and the workplace, a lot of which discussing what I call the Big 3: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Those 3, however, are not the only social media sites that impact the workplace. An example, you ask? YouTube.

Last Friday, Above the Law ran a story about a local attorney’s heavy metal video (which Video Ga Ga recently named the worst video of the year). Please watch—sorry, it will be permanently burned into your retinas. Then, let’s talk.

Being a lawyer is a stressful job. Trust me, I get that. We all need outlets outside of work to relieve that stress. Before I had kids, my outlet was golf. Now, it’s my kids. When your hobby involves dressing up one your company’s secretaries in a bustier, you might want to have second thoughts. It doesn’t take much to turn today’s extracurricular laugh into tomorrow’s harassment complaint.

Social networks offer tremendous benefits as added channels of communication for your employees. “Friending” subordinate employees on social media sites, however, also carries risk. Because of that risk, I advocate that companies train their employees about the dangers of unfiltered online communications and consider implementing policies and guidelines limiting who can connect on Facebook, Twitter, and their kin.

Common sense should instruct employees about right and wrong, but if employees used common sense I’d be out of a job. Apparently, I need to build a module into my workplace social media training program about using subordinate employees as scantily clad extras in bad music videos. Who knew?

*Larp: a type of game where a group of people wear costumes representing a character they create to participate in an agreed fantasy world. Uses foam sticks as swords, foam balls as magic and other props to create the games world.