Communicating in a Virtual World Part 2: Social Media

Using social media at work

Has social media at work become a medium for communication amongst your colleagues?

With the onset of a worldwide pandemic, employees were sent home to work in an attempt to flatten the contagion curve. People started learning how to work remotely, utilizing online tools. Person to person contact became a rare occurrence.  Working differently in this “current normal”, we started to notice challenges in keeping teams together and conflicts at a minimum.  In fact, employees and leaders indicated that they noticed new problems surfacing that were not evident before. In order to address and minimize these challenges, we’ve launched this 3-part series to assist in working from home.

7 Tips for using social media at work

Once you post online, it’s online forever and you no longer control who sees it and where it ends up. 

T.H.I.N.K. BEFORE YOU POST.  Is your contribution:

True Helpful Inspiring Necessary Kind

If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid. Check your facts and do your research.  Is your post or repost accurate?  Have you verified its source?  Use verification tools such as Snopes to see if what you are passing along is true or just a hoax.

  1. CONSIDER THE IMPACT

    Consider the impact of your message, not just your intent.  Ask yourself, “How might another person interpret my message?”  The message may come across differently to each reader, depending on how they filter the message – what their relationship is to you, the group and the topic.  If your post starts with, “I don’t mean to be critical, but…” or “in my humble opinion…”, rethink your message before you post.  If you wouldn’t say it face to face to the person or group, then don’t put it in print.

  2. YOU MAY NOT BE THE EXPERT

    Offering unsolicited advice (especially in a public forum) is tantamount to saying, “Clearly you don’t know what to do, or are too clueless as to how to fix this so I will have to share my wisdom with you.”  Ask the poster if he/she is looking for advice, or offer something like, “I have a couple of ideas that might help.  Let me know if you are interested in hearing them.”

  3. DID YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY?

    Check your assumptions when reading.  You may be interpreting the message differently than how it was intended.  If you are unsure or even offended, better to ask the poster (in private) what they meant than to publicly put them on blast. If you feel the need to respond publicly, best to post something like, “(Name), I wasn’t sure what message you intended by your post.  I am going to message you privately to ask you about it.”

  4. YA, WHAT SHE SAID

    Take the time to read through the entire post before responding.  Someone may have already said what you were going to say or asked the question you were going to ask. Avoid the temptation to merely duplicate the message and the temptation to publicly agree with another post unless there is a request for input from all.

  5. TAKE A MOMENT (OR TWO) TO BREATHE

    Wait before responding.  If you are triggered by a post, by all means, write a response – on a blank word document and save it as a draft.  Leave it for a while, then go back and reread it after you have taken some time to calm down and reflect.  Chances are, you may want to edit or even delete your response before posting it.  Late night, alcohol or substance-infused rants are usually not useful, helpful or even called for.

  6. SOMETIMES A PHONE CALL REALLY IS BETTER

    Don’t commandeer the public space for your private use.  Post messages for the purpose of the intended audience.  Generally, a good rule to follow is to address individual issues in an individual setting and group issues in a group setting. Here are some guidelines:
    • Do not continue a one-on-one conversation with another person on a public “wall” – take it somewhere private.
    • Consider who will be involved or be a witness – does everyone in the group need to be a party to this? Are you subjecting unsuspecting or unwilling participants to information that is hurtful, or of no use/interest to them?
    • Separate the people from the issues – avoid using personal attacks to make your point.
    • Don’t publicly discuss third parties unless you have permission from that person to do so or have a legitimate reason to bring them up.
    • Do not call others out publicly – follow up with them individually if you have a concern.

  7. WHO’S READING THIS? 

    Remember your audience – anyone who is a member of the group can see public posts (and can copy and paste your posts to anyone, anywhere).  Anything done on the World Wide Web can in fact be shared world-wide!  Be thoughtful about putting yourself in a position of being potentially sanctioned, sued, disciplined, harassed or even terminated because of something you posted to a “public” forum. That is not to say that you cannot or should not share your thoughts and opinions, just consider the future ramifications of sharing them to a bunch of people who may not know you.

This article is Part 2 of a 3-part series featuring tips to help effectively communicate with your team while working in a virtual world. Click here to read Part 1: Virtual Meetings.

Follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook for more tips including next week’s article on effectively using email and other forms of written communication. 

Communicating in a Virtual World Part 2: Social Media

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