Yes, the business world is full of ill-conceived tweets, posts and inappropriate photos. However, if your public accounting firm, accounting practice or company isn’t taking advantage of the many positives that can be generated through effective social media use, it’s time to reconsider that stance.

Through education, policy, and training in the proper use of social media, far more good will occur than will bad. If you have someone working in your shop who might follow one of these examples below, it might be good to weed that person out anyway!

Example 1: A young employee was offered a job at a big technology company. Shortly after obtaining the offer he tweeted: “(Name of big tech company) offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute and hating the work.” Not long after that bonehead move, an employee at that company responded to that tweet with: “Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at (name of big tech company) are versed in the web.” Ouch. Score: Big Tech Company 1, Stupid New Hire 0.

Example 2: More than a dozen (name of big airline) crew members were fired over publicly discussing aspects of their job on Facebook. They shared the number of times that certain airplane engines had been replaced and that the cabins were infested with cockroaches. They also took the time to insult many passengers. Talk about permanently grounding yourself!

A couple of bad apples won’t spoil the whole bushel, so to speak. Like I said earlier, with education, training, and sound policies in place, accounting firms and companies still benefit greatly from these powerful tools.

One of my recent blog posts titled “It’s amazing what 140 characters can do” mentioned Roseanne Barr’s latest social misstep. Appropriately, this is where the MACPA social media policy was referenced. Consider this document as a guideline or a comparison to the policy you already have in place.

This section from Intel’s social media guidelines page struck me positively, as well (no, Intel wasn’t the company in Example 1):

Use common sense. When you are online, you are representing Intel: our people, our values. There is no room for bigotry, prejudice, misogyny, or hatred in our company or on our associated social media feeds. Just by identifying yourself as an Intel employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about Intel. Do us all proud.

Hootsuite’s “How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Company” is also worth reviewing.

Take full advantage of today’s social media tools — in alignment with your marketing plan and business strategy — and you’ll reap the benefits.

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“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.”Jawaharlal Nehru

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