"Cancel Culture" and Employee Personal Social Media


We have seen it happen: a frustrated facebook post goes awry. Screenshots are taken and shared widely across the medium. In mere minutes, someone makes the connection between the poster and their employer. Quickly, you are faced with a firestorm of public comments demanding you push a good employee out or risk the rising calls to “cancel” your business. What do you do? How do you avoid it? If it happens, how do you handle it?

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Many business leaders are understandably wary of approaching their staff about personal social media use. When the problem erupts, however, companies are often forced to publicly explain that “such comments are not in line with our values and mission.” Now, because the association has been dragged into the focus, the condemnation is not that you employ one reckless individual. The liability is that you have a culture problem.

Messaging does not begin and end with marketing, as every employee is an ambassador of your brand. Whether they are answering your phones, communicating with clients and vendors, or even in their daily social lives, they represent the values of your organization. It is not enough to cite a mission statement. It is imperative for your entire organization to believe in it.

At its founding, a business is embodied by the passion and drive of its leaders. As they succeed, however, leaders will have to hire individuals they rely on for support, and eventually, those individuals will need more individuals with certain skills for support, and on and on. What can happen through growth, is the dilution of that passionate embodied mission. A company can work diligently to secure a qualified staff and positive personality fit but still struggle with an organization of individuals. I often refer to this as the disconnect between “my job,” and “the work I do.” This disconnect can have detrimental effects on my work product, the sentiment I use when talking about work, and yes, it can even extend to choices in my personal life.       

Through organizational communication strategy, a business has an opportunity to help their staff to “buy-in” and really connect with their company. While individuals have individual motives, they can be united around a common narrative and belief. For instance, the values of family, personal success, or community enrichment can all be framed to align with the larger values and goals of the company.  The understanding and ability for every voice to effectively articulate “what we do, and why we do it” can not only dramatically benefit the organizational culture, it can help to identify and keep your customers. When staff identify and relate with their larger organizational culture, necessary guidelines – like social media use – are more easily accepted and agreed upon.

This strategy will also prepare for the “if/when” crisis communication and public relations become necessary. Social media events arise out of the blue and can catch companies unprepared, but we can help. The team of consultants at LM Thomas Group are prepared and well-versed in communication, process, team building, and strength-building to coach any organization through the frustrations and fears they may face. Contact us for a free consultation. Tell us your story, and we’ll help you utilize the tools you have to succeed.