Tweeting at Work: A Job Requirement?

Twitter certainly is having a moment. At a time when Nielsen Online is reporting there’s been an 83 percent rise in the time spent on social-networking sites from a year ago, the micro-blogging service is a media darling – in part because the media can’t stop Twittering about itself to itself.

Last week’s epic Time cover story by Steven Johnson was Twitter’s biggest moment yet. He did his best to explain "what it all means," and the article is well worth reading, in part because it helps to raise the issue of whether Twitter has a place in the office as a workplace productivity enhancer.

The problem, of course, is training employees to behave appropriately and separating their private lives from their office lives. As Mike Gotta blogs:

There are tremendous benefits in terms of keeping up to date on things, building relationships, gaining a sense of community, and so on. That’s why there is a market for enterprise versions of social messaging tools. The challenge is the space between the enterprise and the public Internet. Use of consumer tools for some people in some organizations might be perfectly fine – but there are organizations where such use can raise significant concerns. It’s best to undertake the proper due diligence and manage expectations early-on rather than let viral use create an over-reaction on the part of leadership teams.

More advice, this time from BizTimes:

Openly dialogue with employees about using Twitter and communicate a clear policy on its use. Encourage employees to ask questions about their use of Twitter and create a friendly environment for them to do so. Tell your employees that social media like Twitter must be treated like any other means of communicating about your business. Employees need to realize that "tweeting" about company information or confidential information may violate company policies or company agreements and such disclosure can subject the company to legal liability.

Legal liability? I hate when that phrase comes up. As always, proceed with caution.

Don Willmott