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The Confident SMB

From Dorm Rooms to Cubicles: Social Networking Tips for Your Recent Grad Employees

Created: 25 Aug 2010
Blake M's picture
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It’s that time of year again—the time when college seniors hang up their backpacks in exchange for briefcases to hit the pavement in search of jobs in the “real world”. And with 1.6 million men and women with bachelor’s degrees entering the workforce this year, chances are you’ll see some of them knocking on your door with resume in-hand.

The majority of these grads are leaving college with a marketable skill that they didn’t get from writing a term paper or listening to a lecture. In fact, they probably didn’t realize they were gaining a skill at all. With all the time they spent tweeting, writing blogs and creating fan pages, these students gained first-hand knowledge of the ins-and-outs of social networking, which your small business can use to its advantage.

However, the fact that these recent grads are familiar with these sites for their own socializing doesn’t mean it’s time to turn them loose on the company accounts. The tips below can help you and your new employees safely use social networking in a way that best suits your small business.

Make Safe Bets
With all of the different social networks these grads are familiar with, it might be tempting to want to take part in all of them. But not all social networks are created equal when it comes to safety and security. Do your research and invest your resources in the networks that best suit your needs, and only participate on the networks you feel are safe and trustworthy.

Educate Employees
These grads know how to manage their personal accounts to maintain their own personal reputation and credibility (You looked at their Facebook page before hiring them, right?). The same should be done on your company accounts. Educate your employees on the types of information can and should be shared and what must be kept private. This rule should be applied to both your company’s social networking accounts, as well as what your employees share about the company on their private accounts.

Decide Between Guidelines and Policies
Using social networking isn’t just fun and games when it’s used for a business. Minimize your social networking risk by creating policies or guidelines for employees depending on your business needs. Guidelines simply provide some level of direction, while policies help protect the company more by providing a level of accountability in the event an employee does something wrong. A recent survey conducted by Symantec revealed that 42 of the respondents’ employers currently have no policies in place regarding social media, which is leaving the door open for several potential hazards. Enforcing policies or guidelines can protect you and your company against embarrassment, security risks and potential legal action.

Assign a Ringleader
If you have multiple grads whose social media skills you’d like to use, appoint a social media leader to carry out and manage the social networks used by your business. The person in this role should create a strong password and share it only with those whom they grant account access to. Company passwords should be saved on the company level to help you avoid having to track them down from former employees after they leave the company.

Don’t Take Candy (or links) from Strangers
Tell employees to be conscientious of who is being added to the company’s network and avoid clicking on links from unfamiliar followers. Shortened links can contain traps to malware and infect your computer system if opened. Instruct them to use tools such as Google Chrome or browser extensions that allow you to view the full URL before clicking. Remind them that rather than just infecting their own personal laptop in their dorm room, clicking on an infected link could take down the entire company network.

Proceed with caution
The chances of one of your accounts getting hacked into are not unlikely, so don’t let your company get caught off guard if a security breach occurs. Talk to employees and create a plan on how the situation will be handled. Instruct employees to immediately change the account password, notify the network of what has happened, apologize, and let them know that actions are being taken.