When I set up my Twitter account a colleague told me I should add ‘my views and not those of my employer’ or something similar to my profile. At the time there was no work social media guidance. I’d seen others using Twitter but wasn’t really sure why I’d use it and I definitely didn’t intend to comment about work; that would be stupid right? So why should I put what I thought was a disclaimer on it?
I drafted my profile as follows:
It started with a statement; ‘It’s all about information’. I’d chosen to reference my work. I then described previous and current professions and added ‘at Leeds City Council’. I’d mentioned my role and employer just like that. I then added ‘family man, infrequent golfer and optimist’, providing some personal context. I then had enough spaces for the ‘my views etc’ disclaimer.
Did I think it covered me or my employer if I made a gaffe? Not really, I just thought it needed to be there as my colleague had advised.
The statement has no legal grounding. If I’m disrespectful or I let my mouth wander then my employment code of conduct comes into play and I can and would expect to be disciplined.
As my job in communications dictates I sometimes need to advise on a corporate line, it’s this that makes a specific difference to how relevant or not the ‘my views’ wording in my profile is.
Including my role and employer in my profile suggests a professional account. People could assume what I say is the official line. I therefore don’t talk about work specifics of a sensitive nature and I signpost elsewhere for an official response if necessary.
As time has passed however and as people generally see me as both ‘Phil from the council’ and ‘Phil from Moortown’ I use my account to try and explain things my employer is involved in. I also include stuff about the personal me to keep it social as that’s how I am. It’s me being me; I have a job and a social side which come together in a Twitter account.
Back to the disclaimer, if I’d stated whatever I might say is not necessarily the view of the council that wouldn’t be helpful as sometimes it is. My profile therefore no longer includes ‘my own views’.
Similar disclaimers like “RTs & follows are not endorsements” take up too much profile space that could be used to explain who people are or what they do. People really shouldn’t be that defensive; it’s a ‘social’ network after all, even if we do use it for business purposes.
Recently I’ve been exploring the concept of my employer as a sociable organisation. Interestingly, it led to a discussion elsewhere where it was suggested there could be confusion between me as a person and as a representative of a (perceived) powerful organisation.” I followed that up here.
Perhaps we are all to some extent our employer by default even if we suggest we aren’t?
As with most things in life, how we act is much more telling than any disclaimer or badge we might hide behind.