There are two kinds of people on LinkedIn- those who use the LinkedIn Publishing service to broadcast blog posts and those who absolutely hate the LinkedIn Publishing feature!
I don’t currently use the publishing option, but as my notifications tab was
spammed flooded with posts on the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Hobby Lobby contraceptive challenge, the danger of publishing/commenting on LinkedIn became crystal clear for me.
On one particular level-headed post about the Supreme Court decision, the comments became increasingly angry and offensive. Name-calling, sweeping generalizations, and vague threats became the norm only a few hours after the post went live. I was shocked. I’m used to seeing such vile behavior in the comment threads of sites like Gawker, Huffington Post, etc, but not on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the playground of recruiters and employers. Of all the social media platforms available today, is there any platform with a more professional focus than LinkedIn? Why would anyone pick that venue to show their lack of civility?
My concern about the platform was validated when I saw this comment. I’ve blocked the individual’s name and picture, but check out the “disclaimer” he put in place of his current job title. He explains why he added the disclaimer in the actual comment.
This is the exact problem with being a jerk (or just having a strong, unpopular opinion) on a platform like LinkedIn. If you post something offensive on Gawker or HuffPost, more than likely you’re doing so under a pseudonym or ambiguous username. However on LinkedIn, you have to use your real name. On Gawker or Huffpost, if you say something offensive, it’s unlikely that an individual will be motivated enough to Google your name, find out where you work, search for your boss’ contact info, and email their complaint. That’s too much work.
But on LinkedIn, all of that information is about 2 clicks away. It’s too easy not to complain to the person’s boss.
Instead of blocking access to social media platforms, why not give your employees “critical thinking in social media” training the same way professional sports teams give their athletes media training?
Help your employees understand that regardless of the disclaimer in their bio, the opinions/actions they spread online will ALWAYS reflect upon the employer. Remind your employees that if they wouldn’t feel comfortable making the same statement in front of the CEO, then they shouldn’t post that statement online. Teach your employees that even if you delete your comment, someone could have taken a screen capture, and those live forever on the net! And, of course, gently remind them that it is possible to be terminated for online behavior that reflects negatively on the organization.
Arm your employees with good critical thinking and decision making skills so they won’t need to add useless disclaimers to their social media accounts, and you won’t have a PR/HR nightmare on your hands. Win-win!
To learn more about why critical thinking matters in the workplace, download the Critical Thinking Means Business white paper here.