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Social Media Etiquette

Social Media Etiquette

Justin Ellis | Portland Press Herald

November 19, 2009

Businesses would be foolish not to be on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, but they are even more foolish if they don’t have policies protecting themselves on those sites.

This was the message at a seminar held by Portland law firm Bernstein Shur on Wednesday on workplace legal issues arising from social networking sites. The seminar was part of a larger symposium on employment issues including changes in labor law, health care and benefits.

Social networking is arguably among the most timely issues in the business world, said Ron Schneider, a lawyer specializing in employment law. Social media in the workplace present both opportunity and danger for companies, he said.

“From employers’ point of view, it’s an incredibly powerful marketing tool for how we do business,” Schneider told an audience of municipal workers, human resources officers and small-business owners.

Tools like Facebook and Twitter can be used to market products and connect with customers, Schneider said. But these same networks can exact a toll.

Through risque photos, improper connections with people or organizations and off-the-cuff remarks, employees can hurt themselves and their employers, he said.

This is why companies need policies regulating social-network behavior, from bad-mouthing clients to “friending” supervisors, Schneider said.

Nick Madden, who works in marketing for Pine State Beverage Company, attended the seminar because his company is trying to carefully make inroads onto Facebook.

“This is a good way to check our boundaries and see what is out there,” he said.

Madden, who said he personally uses Facebook for keeping in touch with distant friends, said it’s also a useful tool for connecting with customers.


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