The Double-edged Sword of Tweeting Employees

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Warning: That seemingly innocent intern you have in charge of your social media or the assistant you have running your Facebook might turn on you and tell the world what goes on behind closed doors at your business. We’ve recently seen the worst case scenarios of employees who tweeted too much and subsequently caused a public relations disaster. Last week at Marc Jacobs’ fashion empire, a disenchanted intern who was on his way out the door took to Twitter to air his frustrations with the company’s already publicly criticized CEO Robert Duffy. The 4 a.m. rant and its following firestorm of unrelated harassment lawsuits got us thinking: Should only inner circle employees be in charge of posting on company social network accounts?

The gut reaction, and not an incorrect one, is “well, of course only higher-ups and trusted individuals should be in charge of distributing our messages on Facebook, Twitter and the like.” This isn’t to say a background check and retinal scan is necessary just so we can have our assistant tweet about our new services. A little thoughtful, instinctual hiring about who gets to run our social media campaigns is all that’s really required. And paying them well to take care of it is a good place to start, too.

After all, an employee-run social media account can be really helpful, a lot of fun and great PR. We love that Zappos lets its employees run wild on Twitter and interact with its customers. Zappos employees use the platform to announce new products, to follow up on customer orders and to let followers know what’s happening on the site. @NORDSTROMdave, a men’s sportswear manager at Nordstrom department store in Burlington, Mass., recently popped up in Web Ink Now for the creative way he uses Twitter to inform customers of sales while giving style tips. Employees like Dave and those at Zappos are clearly happy where they work and enjoy spreading the word about their workplace. So, in the end, the best way to avoid a social media backlash is to keep being an amazing boss.

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