#npau TweetChat – Balancing work and personal use on social media

Connecting Up Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to enhance the information technology capabilities of other community based not-for-profit organisations.

Connecting Up hosts regular tweetchats to share knowledge between not-for-profit organisations on topics relevant to their use of social media, the Internet and Information Technology. A tweetchat is a conversation conducted via Tweeter, enabling people to participate in the chat through the #npau hashtag.

This afternoon we participated in the first #npau tweetchat for 2012, with the topic balancing work and personal use on social media. This is an area particularly relevant to not-for-profit organisations, given that many staff work on a part-time basis, while others may be interacting with the organisation in a variety of ways, such as being a client, volunteer or board member.

The conversation began with the question: Does your org have guidelines/polices (maybe unwritten) which impacts your personal use of social media?

The importance of policies cannot be underestimated, as this will provide guidance in using social media. Typically a social media policy will share some similarities with your communications policy, such as identifying a principal spokesperson who speaks on behalf of the organisation.

@ConnectingUp staff & volunteers encouraged to use social media respectfully. Difficult situations are handled by spokespeople #npau

More than one person in your organisation can utilise social media and this should be encouraged to maintain ongoing engagement with your stakeholders. It is advisable however to also establish a designated spokesperson that speaks in an official capacity via social media. Your spokesperson should be used for official announcements or to manage difficult social media situations.

This approach ensures that you are able to engage your online community while also providing support through an official spokesperson.

The second question asked how have you found staff react to a social media policy?

Staff should be encouraged to participate in policy development, with the board of management adopting policies that have incorporated feedback across an organisation. This approach ensures collective ownership, which is particularly important in communications, given that non-compliance could diminish the reputation of the organisation.

We find most staff appreciate guidelines, very similar to standard media policies – provides clarity and assurance #npau

Most staff members appreciate policies, difficulties may arise if social media usage is restricted and this approach should only be considered as a last resort.

Social media works effectively through active engagement, restricting its usage diminishes the ability to engage and create an online community. Staff members should be encouraged to consider how they could positively assist in fostering this community, while also ensuring that they undertake their job requirements.

The last question asked: Does anyone else feel “always on” when it comes to social? Where do you draw the line between work/personal?

Separate Facebook / Twitter profiles can help in creating a distinction between personal & professional #npa

Separate profiles ensures that the organisation maintains a distinct identity to that of individuals. This also assists with succession planning by enabling someone else to manage the organisation’s official social media accounts.

Ultimately the individual will need to establish their own boundaries regarding the amount of time they spend on social media. An organisation should encourage social media usage while ensuring it does not detract from other work commitments.

Connecting Up holds regular #npau tweetchats throughout the year. For the full archive of this chat please visit storify.com/connectingup/balancing-work-and-personal-use-of-social-media

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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