Monday, April 18, 2011

M.O.B. Mentality for Social Media Ethics

As my social media class comes to an end, I am astonished by how much both my students and I have learned over the semester. From the mechanics of how to use some of the social media tools to developing strategies, we have covered it all. We were, and hopefully will remain, a part of the "stream" on a daily basis.

However, part of what has irritated me over the semester is the ethical issues that come up often in the "Wild Wild West" that is the social media landscape. From the inappropriate tweets related to Japan's tragedy to physicians fishing around Facebook to query patients, ethical issues abound in social media. With this said, I'd like to offer my M.O.B. rules for social media. They can be applied to a cross section of social media platforms, including social networks, microblogging and blogging sites and more.

M - What would your mother say if she saw, read or heard this? There is nothing more disheartning than to hurt your mother's feelings. Have you ever been told, "I'm not angry. I'm just disappointed?" That one hurts to the core. So, think before you hit the enter button, and ask yourself if this post would upset your mother, grandmother, godmother or great grandmother.

O - If you are a bit older, perhaps you have little ones, children or offspring. The principles remain the same for this category. What would your children think if they saw, heard or read this post? Would they want to know their mommy did or does this? Worse. Would you want their classmates to know? Be mindful that even if you are comfortable with the content that it does have ramifications for your children.

B - There has always been a question about how much your personal life reflects upon your professional life. Are you really off at 5 p.m., or do you remain an extension of your company 24 hours a day? In the oversharing world that is social media, can you say or show too much? Before you hit the send button, ask yourself if your boss would be embarrassed by what you share online, or would customers think differently of you, your work or the company? Further, ask if you are sharing your thoughts or if you are really talking too much about what happens in the office, with coworkers or on projects? Today, many companies require employees to sign confidentiality or social media agreements. It's a real possibility what you do online can be a problem at work.