It’s that time of year.
Time for holiday parties and selfies. The combination of both can sometimes get people in trouble.
It’s also time to think about your by-laws and social media policies. We’ve talked about over-served board members on this blog before.
Heed the Privacy Warning for Personal Lives on Social Media
Occasionally chambers become concerned over something staff, board members, or other highly visible volunteers post on social media. While social media posts of staff members are easier to enforce, because they are paid employees and thus their opinions could be seen to represent the chamber, volunteers/board members present a much stickier situation.
Your by-laws may include a morals clause for membership and you may be able to stretch it out to encompass social media for extreme cases of unprofessionalism, prejudice, or criminal activities. Anything short of that should be handled with caution. Here’s why:
Everyone is entitled to a personal life and while questionable personal antics are best left unposted, the appropriateness (or inappropriateness as the case may be) of these actions is largely generational and partly geographical. For instance, a selfie in a bikini on a Facebook page (your own or even a community one) is pretty common where I live (in Florida). Most likely if you have board members in decent shape in Florida you can find pictures of them in public forums in bathing suits.
As I mentioned, it’s also generational. Since many of Gen Y don’t remember a time without social media, they tend to be more free about what they share and who they consider “friends.” Just take a look at the large numbers of friends on social media that most Gen Y’s have to know their view of “friend” is very different than the rest of us. Gen Y also exhibits a higher tolerance for diversity. This diversity is not limited to race but to leisure choices as well. This means things others think are inappropriate are considered a freedom of expression to Gen Y.
This freedom of expression has caught on to other generations as well. I see people share intimate details of their lives every day on social media.
I started my career in politics where we had a saying
“Say it with diamonds, say it with mink but never, ever say it in ink.”
and that has colored my use of social media. I have good friends who don’t even know my political views because I keep them off the Interwebs. But that is how I choose to use social media. Most people my age and younger are not as uptight.
I’m not telling you not to create social media posting policies but I am suggesting you think very seriously about how much of someone’s personal life you ask them to limit. Instead of creating a policy that reads “don’t do this,” use helpful language like:
“Be a connector for the community, not a detractor.”
“Raise yourself and others up in all social media interactions.”
“Represent your community and your members in a way that befits your role in this community.”
While these suggestions are largely open to interpretation, and what’s one person’s appropriate is not another’s, it’s a start that impresses upon them the importance of their role and a positive attitude without an overtly heavy-handed policy that could become a PR pain in the wrong hands and context.
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