Personal v. Professional Use of Social Media

 The seemingly non-stop rise of social media has led us into a world where whether you like it or not, you have to develop your own personal social media use policy with regards to how you utilize services. 

By this I mean that you have to develop parameters in which you work and communicate through social media, on both a personal and a professional level. Some of my friends have no problem posting obscenities, rude or insulting statements and compromising photos. I attempt to stick to posting music video’s from YouTube, communicating and commenting with friends and supporting political issues – not to say that these things don’t sometimes go wrong as I have had to delete two “friends” over multiple abusive comments they have posted about politically related issues. As we have all heard before “Don’t feed the trolls”….

My opinion (and advice) is that no matter whether you are using social media for personal or professional reasons, keep in mind that everything is public and open to scrutiny. If you don’t want someone finding it, don’t post it, if you are not ready to deal with opposing comments, then don’t open yourself up for comments, if you don’t want people seeing a picture, then make it private or just don’t post it, if you don’t want to be found, then don’t “check in”.

The difficult part about this issue is balancing your use of Social Media from a professional perspective especially when you work at an agency that may demand extreme privacy (like a shelter for battered women), may be highly stigmatized (HIV Care or Addiction) or may focus on a oppreseed group of people (Homeless or transgendered). Any “sharing” of information could have disastrous consequences for your own job prospects or for your clients. The question is, how can you constructively use Social Media and promote the issues associated with your agency while at the same time protecting the safety, personal information and identities of your clients?


3 thoughts on “Personal v. Professional Use of Social Media

  1. I definitely agree. There should be some sort of social media etiquette that users should acquire being able to have accounts to social networks. Sometimes, I literally shake my head on the comments, pictures, and links people feel the need to post on this various websites. Even if certain social networks are used strictly for personal reasons, it should not be used as an online diary or journal, divulging personal and inappropriate information. It amazes me when people post information that are controversial and then become upset when someone disagrees with them. Then here comes the “this is my page, I can say whatever I want” type statuses, tweets, and comments.
    When it comes to posts about battered women shelters, HIV care, the homeless population, etc., the person(s) in charge of the social networks should be very careful in what is said and how it is stated. It may not be wise to give anecdotal examples when the information given may compromise a person’s identity. Depending on the agency, it may be appropriate to change information about the person so that the public will not know who the person is in the example.

  2. So – can you use social media in a nonprofit and protect the integrity of your clients and your organization? We need to think carefully about what techniques, tools, approaches and protections we use. Social Media policies are critical for nonprofit organizations. Here are some examples of policies – This site is a place where you can create a policy right on the site.

    Sound pretty boring, huh? Figuring out the way to use social media to tell your story while still staying true to your clients and your mission – that’s a process that takes conversation and buy in. The process can be arduous, but it’s the only way to be sure that you are using the tools the can help in a way that doesn’t hurt.

  3. The answer to your last question is an easy one. Just don’t share client information! I think social media is a great way to draw the public in to what your organization is all about. It’s not meant to expose the clients that you work with or increase social stigma about a population. Its about reaching a large group of people, educating the public and getting more people on board with your mission. Now, instead of going door-to-door or making a thousand phone calls, you can inform people about key issues without leaving your desk! As long as you can prevent your facebook page, twitter etc. from becoming a platfrom for those who want to spread hate and negativity about your clients, Social Media can be a wonderful thing!!!!

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