Last week, the idea was floated at the London Finxtra Social Media event #finxsm that some organisations may be considering hooking up the personal social media accounts of staff to their internal audit systems. As one attendee tweeted, this would be terrifying in some cases!

It does raise the very good question of who looks at your personal social media profiles. When are personal views really just personal views?

On Friday I noticed a tweet from Xero CEO @roddrury saying that his company now lists their teams’ personal Twitter accounts on their website.

Having your personal Twitter account listed on the page of your employer might change how you use your account – or will it? And should it?

Can’t you just have a personal account that you can use for your own stuff in your own time? It reminds me of when I was at school – girls caught after school in public but in their school uniform –  and smoking cigarettes!! – were swiftly dealt with even though it was after school hours and off school property.

So is it the same in the digital world? If you have a LinkedIn profile that lists your current employer (as most do) and is linked to your Twitter account – does that mean you are doing the equivalent hanging round the Newmarket shops in your uniform after school?

Anonymity is just not what it used to be. With a few Google searches and applying a bit of CSI stealth you’d be surprised how easy it is to work out who your employer might be. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as wearing your school uniform anymore.

Additionally there are some people who are very much in the public eye by virtue of their roles.

The @TelecomNZ Twitter Team
TV3 Reporters on Twitter

McDonalds Twitter team page

Some organisations ‘humanise’ their corporate social media accounts by clearly identifying the people behind their brand such as Telecom,  TV3McDonalds, Dell to name a few. That makes it quite easy to find the personal accounts of these people and to follow them.

All of this has lead to a proliferation of Twitter bios which include a disclaimer along the lines of ‘these are my personal views and not those of my employer’, condensed down into some witty quip in the 160 characters that Twitter allows for your bio. This might help your conscience a bit but probably not something you want to rely upon when convincing your next employer how amazing you are at work!

If you are able to be traced back to your employer then should you be distilling your personal views to something more palatable? But isn’t the whole thing about social media to be social and to share your thoughts and opinions? You can’t just be regurgitating media releases from your employer – no-one would even follow you.

Its a balance. Similar to walking a tightrope blindfolded. Simple really – right?

Here’s an example of one person ring fencing different social media accounts for different purposes.

A Few Tips
Start off by assuming everyone is reading your tweets or posts. If you don’t want to be having a chat with your CEO about it in the morning, then don’t tweet it.

Use your common sense – its not rocket science.

Some people lock their social media profiles down – although that is very contrary to being social isn’t it? But it does allow you to control who can see your posts to some extent so might be an option for some people.
Your organisation may have a social media policy or guidelines. Read it. Read it again. Know what is expected of you in your role. If you are not sure – then ask! If you are an employer, check you have one that makes sense, is understood and not draconian – some organisations have faced strong criticism about policies that have been interpreted as being too controlling. Some examples are here: Ford and  Likeable Media’s blog including Coke, Intel, BestBuy and other examples in action.
Google yourself to check your digital footprint. You may be surprised at what is there! Set up Google Alerts for your name so you know what is being said about you. Google has a long memory.
Lastly, don’t drink and tweet.
What do you do to manage your personal social media profile? Share your thoughts in the comments below.