A reader writes:
I work at a women’s magazine. We have a a lot of advertiser promotions that we feature on our social media outlets (Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest). I have been asked numerous times to post these on my personal social media accounts to garner more eyeballs. This is something I don’t feel comfortable with, but am looked down upon for not doing so, as I’m not going out of my way to promote the brand.
Should employees be pressured to do this type of promotion? What are appropriate boundaries?
This is both annoying and increasingly common.
You used to see it mainly in nonprofits, where the assumption was that you support the cause they’re advocating and would want to share advocacy opportunities (or whatever) with your connections. But then it spread to businesses, and it got a lot more annoying, because asking people to share ads for businesses is really an imposition. (And to be clear, I’m not saying nonprofits should require it either, just that it’s less ridiculous to suggest a share in that context.)
If I were in your shoes, I’d probably say, “Sorry, but it’ll just annoy my friends/followers, and that won’t be helpful.” And if that didn’t go over well, I’d do what I could to make it look like I didn’t have any of those accounts (locking down Facebook, not using my real name on others, etc.).
But I wanted a social media pro’s take on this, so I turned to my personal social media wizard and friend, Erica Manney, who writes youshouldonlyknow.com. She says: “This is totally annoying when it comes to regular companies asking general employees (like, accounting, or the IT people) to put things on social media, and a different thing when you are a media company and in a public role such as social media person.”
This is true. So are you in a social media role? Or are you a regular, non-social-media person? If the former, Erica points out: “If you’re a social media person, you kind of have to be ‘bought in’ to your job. You’re the #1 cheerleader, public voice, and advocate. If you aren’t willing to promote and be excited about your company, even to your own social network, within reason, you may not be in the right role at the right company. /koolaid”
She also asks, “How big is her own personal social network? How many more eyeballs are they really hoping to gain? If she’s a regular, non-power user, then them asking her to do this is kind of stupid. The campaign should be so big that one extra person wouldn’t even register.”
Overall, she says, “This is a stupid request, unless you are a known power user — but it is the changing way of the world, and I could see why they would want you to do it as a show of support.”
Her suggestions for you: “Explain that certain profiles are private (or … don’t, because ones you intend to keep private should already be locked down) and then publicly and occasionally use your other platforms. Because … that’s kinda the way things are going.”
I think this is right. If social media is part of what you’re there to do, well, this is part of how social media works. The lines are blurred between personal and professional accounts, at least on some platforms. But if that’s not your job, then go with some combination of polite demurrals, account lockdown, the occasional tweet for good will, and trying to get away with ignoring the rest of it.