Social Media in the Workplace

Last Friday I gave a presentation to users of the City Business Library at the Guildhall in London.  The topic was the use of social media in the workplace and the issues it raises for employers. You can view the presentation by clicking here.

There was a useful discussion afterwards and most people had stories to tell of how people at work had misused email, inadvertently or otherwise.  Social media, of course, goes beyond just email and surfing the internet.  Indeed, controlling use of these two is probably the easiest of the challenges facing employers.  IT departments can deny access to dodgy websites and it is easy to tell employees what should and should not be said from the corporate email account (although having said that it is still amazing how many people ignore this).

The real problem for employers is how to control use of Twitter, Facebook etc by employees using these media on behalf of the business.  It is simple to ban all personal use ofsocial media in office hours (although query how well this would go down with your staff:  social media is here to stay and how many employers would feel comfortable with banning people from using the telephone for personal use during office hours?) but employers recognising the power of social media to promote their business face a harder challenge. For instance, take the example of Vodafone UK earlier this year (which I refer to in the above presentation) when one of its employees used the corporate Vodafone account to make highly inappropriate comments, causing offence amongst the phone company’s 8,000 odd followers.

Just nominating certain employees to use social media channels isn’t going to be enough; they will need to be made fully aware of what is and is not acceptable.  The main point I make in the presentation is the need for employers to act consistently towards any breaches by staff, otherwise they risk claims for unfair dismissal and/or discrimination arising.

Some of the members of the audience were surprised by my assertion that it isn’t possible to delete your Facebook account. You can deactivate your account but that doesn’t remove all the information you put on and may still be there for Facebook to access. I was wrong, apparently you can delete your account – it just isn’t very easy or quick – see this post here.  I have a Facebook page (please “like it”) but I can never really get to grips with Facebook .  I am going to keep on with it for the time being, but I much prefer Linked In.

I am giving the same talk again at 2.30 p.m on 25th June at the CBL.  Please book directly with the CBL: 020 7332 1812;

As a law firm we can help businesses develop social media policies to fit within your wider social media strategy.  If you need further help please contact me at or phone me on 0207 464 8433.

Incidentally, The Guildhall is a superb location and well worth a visit if you haven’t been. The City Business Library is also a very valuable resource and much improved since its move from the old location in Brewers’ Garden.

Michael Scutt, Employment Solicitor 

Employment solicitor with Crane and Staples, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Blogger & writer. I like cycling, cricket, football and history.