Many businesses are actively encouraging their employees to use social media at work, hoping that they will become “brand advocates”, talking about the company’s products and services. Employers also hope that their worker’s accounts will help to give the company a “human” face.

But as good as these intentions are, you should carefully consider whether you really want to use your social media accounts at work. Because there are a few potential issues to be aware of.

Increased risk of downloading malware

Social media is a brilliant tool for sharing links, videos and interesting information with your friends online. But not all those links go to good places – quite often those pages will have adware, malware or computer viruses lurking in the background, trying to download themselves onto your computer.

If malware does install itself on your work computer, it could cause serious damage to the rest of the network. The time and costs associated with fixing these issues could seriously hurt your company – and maybe even lose you your job, even if it was an accident.

Possible negative press

There are dozens of examples of situations where someone has made a joke online, but one of their followers has taken offence. The issue quickly escalates, as strangers offer criticisms – and sometimes even threats.

The fall-out from these incidents also affects that person’s employer – some people wrongly assume that the individual and their company are inextricably linked. So the company must act to regain control of the situation – including sacking the employee involved.

Wasting time

With so much interesting information available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, it is very easy to spend hours catching up on what people are sharing. But if you spend too long on non-work related tasks, you will run into problems getting your actual work done.

When the quality of your work starts to decline, you could be disciplined by your employer – and potentially sacked if things go too far.

Protecting yourself at work

Before you start using your personal social media accounts at work, you should have a conversation with your boss. You should ask how your employer expects you to behave:

  • What kind of malware and content-blocking tools will they deploy to prevent viruses being downloaded accidentally?
  • What protections are in place in the event of a social media disaster? Is there a plan to protect the business and the employees?
  • What constitutes fair use? How much is too much? Can you do whatever you like online, so long as your work is being done?

It is only by establishing these guidelines up front that you can hope to avoid accidentally breaking one of them, risking your job. By being smart, both you and your business avoid trouble and gain the benefits offered by social media.