You know all those friends you have on Facebook and Twitter? Well, according to MSNBC - they’re important to your employer, too! That’s because in addition to staying in touch with people, social sites are great tools for networking and promoting yourself. Maybe you’re an entertainer and you have a show coming up, or you want help raising money for charity. Chances are, you post it on Facebook! Now, employers want you to help promote their brand to your friends. For example, Symantec Corporation - which makes the Norton anti-virus software - is encouraging workers to “advocate for the company” on their personal networking profiles. Employee Marian Merritt does it. She mixes personal and work-related tweets on her Twitter account, such as: “Landed at LAX. Gals behind me didn’t stop yakking LOUDLY for 10 hours” and “Does your school group want FREE Family Online Safety brochures from Norton?”
Marketing analyst Nate Elliott says that companies see this as a way to promote their products without dishing out big bucks for traditional advertising, because even though companies often set up corporate accounts on Facebook and Twitter, these can be seen as generic and spammy. However, when employees use their personal accounts to get the word out about their employer, it’s taken more seriously. Companies want to cash in on that, but Elliott says it’s a fine line. Employers don’t want to command their employees to help them, but rather encourage them. There’s also another issue. At the core of this, social and professional lines are being blurred. What happens if an employee becomes disgruntled and leaves? That could end up reflecting negatively on the company if they Tweet about it. If a worker has made professional contacts while Facebooking on the job, who gets custody of those contacts? There are no laws in place for that. There are also no laws protecting employees who mistakenly reveal confidential company information, or embarrass the company and get fired for it, even if their boss encouraged them to go on Facebook in the first place.