The proof’s in: Senior execs can be just as clueless about social media as their rank-and-file colleagues.
Exhibit A: Gene Morphis, former CFO of Francesca’s Holdings Corp., a fashion retail chain.
Morphis was fired from his post after he “improperly communicated company information through social media,” according to a Francesca’s spokesperson.
His digitial misdemeanors were outlined in a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. Some highlights:
Morphis had a Facebook page, wrote a blog and had a Twitter account under the name “theoldcfo.”
And he wasn’t shy about expressing his opinions. To wit:
On Twitter: “Dinner w/Board tonite. Used to be fun. Now one must be on guard every second.” Dinner must have gone OK, because the next day he wrote, “Board meeting. Good numbers=Happy Board.”
On Facebook, concerning news of company earnings: “Earnings released. Conference call completed. How do you like me now Mr. Shorty?”
And after a presentation to investors: “Roadshow completed. Sold $275 million of secondary shares. Earned my pay this week.”
Morphis’s musings were brought to the company’s attention, and, after an internal investigation, he was “terminated for cause.”
Social media: The houseguest that won’t leave
So what’s the cosmic relevance here?
Social media is ubiquitous, and that’s not going to change. And nobody’s safe from making a fool of themselves through careless offhand comments.
A survey earlier this year from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 40% of organizations have a formal social media policy. More than half of those policies include a statement regarding the organization’s right to monitor social media usage.
Other common policy provisions:
- a code of conduct for employee use of social networking for professional purposes (68%)
- a code of conduct for employee use of social networking for personal purposes (66%), and
- guidelines for social media communications (55%).
And we’d like to suggest one more hard-and-fast rule that every employer should adopt:
If you use social media to say stupid stuff that will embarrass the company (“protected activity” aside), you’ll probably be fired.