Heather Armstrong — depending on your perspective — is either infamous or famous.
Infamous, in the sense that in 2002, she was one of the first people fired by her employer for writing about company business on her blog, Dooce.
But since that time, she’s only become much more famous, with her spirited writing and her takes on life. Her blog, Dooce, has grown to be a powerful independent voice and she is a best-selling author as well.
At the ABA Annual Meeting over the weekend, Ms. Armstrong and two other attorneys Kenneth Kunkle and Marylee Abrams (who writes the Minnesota Employment Law Blog) spoke at a terrific presentation about social media and the influence in the workplace. A entire recap of the presentation is available on the ABA Journal.
Ms. Armstrong is far from an advocate of acting carefree on the internet. Indeed, on her blog, she warns readers that writing about the workplace is fraught with danger:
Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET. If you are the boss, however, you should be aware that when you order Prada online and then talk about it out loud that you are making it very hard for those around you to take you seriously.
Armstrong also spoke about the enormous clout that social media can have noting that when she posted about her broken Maytag on Twitter to her 1.5 million followers, Maytag had a new washer in her house the next morning. That’s results.
Ms. Abrams also advocated caution on social media but went one step further — advocating a social media policy as well. As Abrams posted on her blog, "Informing employees about workplace expectations is a basic mantra of our firm, in addition to making employees aware of the consequences for violating workplace policies." That’s something I’ve talked about numerous times before too.
Notably, Ms. Armstrong and the others were engaging and very entertaining (I don’t envy Ms. Abrams from having to follow the "mommy blogger" in her presentation). If you enjoy good writing and biting sarcasm, Ms. Armstrong’s blog is a must follow.
And for employers, remember that there are people like Heather Armstrong out there each day. Having a social media policy is one way to ensure that employees know what the rules are ahead of time.