I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the different facets of my “online persona.” It started in mid-December when some of my colleagues and I listened to a webinar on the legal considerations companies face when their employees use social networking tools. The webinar gave basic advice about how companies need to have a policy that governs employee use of social media, sort of a CYA approach so that the company can’t be held liable if an employee says something online that is in some way damaging to the company.
This made me start analyzing my attitude about my various online presences with different websites. Some, such as facebook, are more informal. My chief activity on facebook is checking status messages so I can find out what my friends are up to. It gives me important gossipy information about how my grad school classmates are doing in their new jobs, which college classmates I should be receiving wedding invites from, and makes me feel good about myself because I can see that I haven’t put on as much weight as that mean girl from high school. Others, like LinkedIn, are obviously professional. Twitter, I mostly ignore because I’m honestly just not that invested in participating. Also, you may have noticed that I occasionally post on this blog. I was fairly comfortable using social media.
Then, the other day, I stumbled upon my company’s Social Media Policy. Essentially, it said that I should identify myself using my real name, conduct myself professionally (so don’t say anything I’m going to be ashamed to admit later), and specify that my anything I say here does not necessarily represent the opinions of or constitute advice from my employer (consider this specified). It took me awhile to reconcile how it’s possible to participate in a blog that focuses on the issues faced by a new professional when I’m not going to talk about work (where I encounter professional issues most often). (I suppose this post will be my only exception since it explains something about how I’ll decide on topics in the future.)
Eventually, I decided that it is possible to contribute to this blog without discussing work. There are a lot of issues new professionals face that don’t directly relate to the time they spend in the office, things like professional certification and organizational involvement. Those are the issues that I’ll be talking about.
3 responses to “Social Media Savvy?”
I don’t think my employer has a social media policy, but I did start my “covered with papers” blog to write specifically about my professional activities, including what I do at work. So this is something I’ll probably have to watch.
I started the blog on my own because I imagined that if I were to propose an official blog for my work unit, it would take a long time to get it started. I was maybe feeling a little envious of all the archivists out there who already are happily blogging away on their own. Plus, I thought: if this goes anywhere, I could then show it to my employer as an example of an outreach tool we could use. And if it goes nowhere, then I haven’t dragged the whole work unit into a waste of time. Virtuous self-sacrifice. 🙂
But I’ve wondered about how much to post on specific collections that I work on, personal opinions on certain things, and so on. One thing that came across my mind was using the blog to throw out drafts of articles and so on for public critique . . .
There are a lot of potential uses and many of them are disruptive of current standard operating procedure. I hope that official policies governing individual professionals’ use of these media don’t take too long in catching up to the reality.
I think a lot of it depends on the type of place where you’re working. It seems like in your situation, your blog could easily be an asset to your archive. Since I work for a large company, they’re extraordinarily conscious of what is said by their employees and how it reflects on the company. In a place with a large number of employees, there’s simply a greater risk that one person will say something thoughtless that will reflect badly on the entire company. Essentially, it comes down to the fact that they could be sued if I say something stupid. They definitely appreciate social media and participate actively, but they’re very careful to make sure that this is through official channels.
I think that there is a lot of value that can come from discussing archives, records, and especially specific collections on blogs and in other web 2.0 venues. It’s extraordinarily important to find new ways to make collections more accessible to users. It seems like your blog could be a good way of doing that. Your dedication to your institution is admirable. Honestly, while I enjoy what I do, I’m not sure how many people would want to read about it.
I brought up the issue of social media policies because it was an issue that I never really considered when I was going to school. I heard several times about how prospective employers would check to see what was available about you online when you were applying for jobs, but not as much about requirements on what you could talk about after getting the job.
I really enjoy this blog because you do talk about issues faced by a new archivist at work. It makes this blog unique among the countless archives blogs that seem to exist nowadays. At the same time, I understand that it is important to protect yourself and your archives.