Why your company needs a social media policy.

The following events are based on a true story, but names have been changed to protect the innocent!

Jim worked for an oil and gas subsea service company. His job involved using a ROV, a Remotely Operated Vehicle, to study underwater pipelines. Jim loved his job and was a very happy employee.

One day Jim was studying the underside of a pipeline when the image transmitted by the ROV was that of a shark. Initially shocked, Jim was in awe of this unexpected sight and posted a screen shot of the shark on his personal Facebook page. He included the message “What a view! I love my job.” His profile included his place of work and a link to its website.

No harm in that, right? Wrong.

Jim’s Facebook post was liked and shared by his online contacts. It was not long before a shark enthusiast noticed it and was delighted to see this rare breed in North Sea Waters.

Still, no harm in that, right? Wrong.

Jim’s post received many likes and shares and went viral. Shark conservationists contacted Jim’s employer to voice their concern that a rare breed shark had been seen in waters close to an offshore installation. The oil and gas operator who had commissioned the work also caught sight of this. They were furious that Jim’s screenshot displayed the coordinates and reference numbers that were commercially sensitive to its project. Jim’s employers also questioned why they were spending tens of thousands of pound on an ROV to inspect the seabed, not look for wildlife.

Poor Jim, he meant no harm. His innocent Facebook post was intended to show his friends how much he loved his job.

The incident was escalated to the boardroom. It took considerable time for the project manager to recover the relationship with the client, and the communications department to assure the conservationists that its operations were safe and no sharks were in danger. The HR Department conducted a full review of the company’s induction process and staff handbook … that now includes a social media policy.

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