How LinkedIn can be more dangerous than Facebook or Twitter

We’ve all heard about celebrity faux pas on Facebook and terrifying Tweets. But the things you and your staff do on LinkedIn may be even more dangerous because they can send confidential information to customers and even the media.

Journalists connect to sources of information in just about any way we can, so LinkedIn has quickly become a useful tool for writers looking for sources. One journalistic colleague even uses it to find expert interviewees.

At this point you may feel that you want to log in to LinkedIn and enhance your profile to give yourself a better chance of some publicity.

Before you do so, consider the tail of one of my LinkedIn contacts who just changed job.

This contact worked for a very significant global technology company and was one of their main media spokespeople.

About a month ago, for reasons unknown, he changed jobs. His previous employer made no announcement and the departure went un-noticed.

Until yesterday when LinkedIn’s weekly “Network Update” email revealed his new gig. Which is fair enough: he’s a private citizen and what he posts to LinkedIn is his business.

But it became an issue for his previous employer because another journalist noticed the change and asked his old employer about the move. I’m not sure the journo who wrote the story got the news from LinkedIn, but I think it’s highly likely he did so.

The result is a story that is far from a PR disaster, but also makes his old employer look a little reactive.

I also wonder about the reaction from people in this person’s network? What are they thinking about his old employer if they learned about his change from LinkedIn?

The result is by no means a PR disaster, but it does highlight that raucous photos on Facebook and poorly thought-out Tweets aren’t the only risks that come with social media.

What can we learn from the incident?

Perhaps a new exit interview tactic to consider could be asking a departing employee to make a timely and formal announcement of their move on LinkedIn? Doing so could be a powerful communications tactic for your business, as well as departing employees.

How do you think you can manage what employees place on LinkedIn? Let us know in the Disqus comments field below.

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