Where do you draw the line on social media and employees?

Several incidents of late have caused quite a bit of discussion in our office about the line regarding social media and employees so I thought I'd throw this out to the masses for comments.


Just last week an employee of a media company was fired because they used inappropriate language in a tweet to Chrysler followers. 


When an employee is on facebook or twitter for personal purposes and post pictures, comments or anything else that an employer finds objectional - when does it become a problem for the business?


And when is their behavior online grounds for dismissal?


A sales person is posting pictures of their best friends bachelor party - a drunken brawl?


A female employee in charge of your social media post a photo of themselves in a barely there bikini?


An employee has posted an update that is offensive to a significant number of people in your demographic?


Is it perfectly acceptable for them to do any of these things as long as they are on their personal accounts?


Or does it get really gray when they are also connecting to your customers?


Have you encountered this situation already, if so how did you handle it?






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This ought to be good! Fortunately our team uses good sense and never puts us in these precarious positions! :)
This is the exact reason why it's important to have a social media policy in place so that EVERYBODY is on the same page and know what is expected of them. Most dealerships require, in order to be hired, that every employee watch a video on both sexual harassment and discrimination, I feel the same should be done with social media because it can be a double edged sword. It can be both beneficial and a detriment to business.
I agree. It's important to have a well thought out, well defined Internet policy. Not just for social media, but for personal blogs, forums, etc. that an employee might belong to. Your online persona is tricky to manage... for anyone. Defining what's personal vs. what's professional has become increasing difficult. The thing to remember is that this isn't new. You had the same problems in the past where an employee might be seen by a customer or potential customer at a political rally, or wearing that same bikini at the beach. The only difference is one of scale -- now thousands of people are exposed to pretty much anything you do online -- and it never entirely goes away. Ever.

I believe that companies should encourage internet and social media use AND encourage the application of a little common sense as well. For a long time companies sought to speak with a single corporate voice. To control the message. The shift that taking place online is away from a single voice and toward a chorus. The trick is to balance the loss of control against the positive effects of sounding and seeming more human.


I agree on several points but what about the employees lacking common sense? We've all heard the phrase you can't fix stupid. But I say you will be hard pressed to teach common sense.  I cringe to think what a few of our former dealership employees would have found acceptable if I had told them to just use common sense.


Unfortunately, it is now 'uncommon sense' and most folks don't have any, so its shame on us for 'assuming' that having 'sense' is common.  Take a look at what happens in Washington D.C. Do you see any 'common sense' there...? 

How then can you 'expect' it from someone at at job that requires basically zero education other than being partially literate?


Just sayin'

Not sure if I'm offended or not. I consider myself "mostly" literate and partially educated. But wait, I'm a car guy. I can't be offended.

That's awesom Scott!!


Funny man.


Car guys have got to stick together AND keep their sense of humor.

You shouldn't be offended, but maybe I should have put a finer point on my 'point'.

I have met people with a genius level IQ's in this business, and some who no one would accuse of being even 'smart'.  It is just that you can get a car job with such a broad background that management cannot 'assume' anything, and needs to lay-out specific boundaries for staff activities connect to their job.


I thought that anyone with the necessary 'carguy' thick skin would be unaffected by ANY comment as you point out;-)

This is a hugely interesting and important topic.  Social media offers so much opportunity but at the same time so much potential for disaster.

I have seen and heard suggestions for sales consultants to do their own vehicle walkaround presentations and post them on Face Book or You Tube. 

This seems like a great idea until you consider what might happen if the consultant makes a safety claim the system is not capable of delivering on. If there is an accident and that system the sales consultant said woud protect the buyer, doesn't, there is documentation of the false claims. Who is liable?  The consultant, the dealer, the manufacturer? 

Good points Lyle.
This is tricky. I assure you, I don't wand or need someone telling me (via policy) what I can and can't do in my personal time and on my personal property...virtual or otherwise. We are a free country and the ability to be an idiot, should one choose to be, is a right.

I choose to act professionally online. However, my common sense tells me that what I put online will live on, potentially forever.

I'm a salesman on the front line and just got an "up." Gotta run. Will try to join in the convo again later. Cheers.

Jim, when you say "This is tricky. I assure you, I don't wand or need someone telling me (via policy) what I can and can't do in my personal time and on my personal property...virtual or otherwise. We are a free country and the ability to be an idiot, should one choose to be, is a right."

Would that broad statement include "curbing cars"  (personally buying and selling vehicles on your own property)? Would that be acceptable behavior? Conducting business on your own time and on your own property would not be acceptable to most dealers I suspect, nor would unacceptable behavior in public or online that is not consistent with dealer policy, written or otherwise. I agree with you in saying "this is tricky". The employer has rights as well. If in his employee handbook he specifically says that all sales people will wear red shirts with yellow stripes every third Tuesday of the month, he has every right. The sales person has every right not to work there. For the record, I am a front line salesperson too.


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