You can tweet at work if you like but you might get fired. The Marines, NFL and now ESPN have announced new policies on Twitter usage.
ESPN doesn’t want employees using Twitter for anything but ESPN-related content. No personal quirks or sports opinions. Tweet ESPN’s approved content or face suspension or dismissal. The NFL is dishing out fines to players and staff who tweet while on the field. Several teams have also prohibited members of the media from tweeting during game time. Meanwhile, fans can still tweet the play-by-play while in the stands. The U.S. Marine Corps enforced a year-long ban of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites from its networks. It’s no fun but it does create a reasonable case of leaving a window open for security issues.
As a PR practitioner, I get it. Companies want to be smart about how they use social media but they want the best of both worlds. Maintaining a social media presence serves their audiences while enforcing guidelines on usage offers protection.
Many companies, including media outlets, are still trying to figure out how social media fits in their business models and how to create policies for interaction. Will these tweet policies change companies’ perspectives on policing their social media efforts?
The best part about social media is the dialogue. No one wants to lose their job or face a penalty, but all work and no tweets will cause a twitter presence to suffer and, sooner or later, your tweets will get ignored. Until they figure this Twitter thing out, that’s the way it’s going to be.