No, this is not talking of bad employees or colleagues, I am talking of having employees involved with your social media program. Not an employee or employees who run(s) it, but employees from other areas of the company.
Recently at my current client their featured intranet article was on their need for employees to refrain from participating in their social media conversations. The article said following or liking was okay, but not to participate in discussions. This shows the client takes that feedback seriously and wants it to be genuine grass-roots and not AstroTurf.
I like that, very white-hat and properly so. When I as a customer read reviews or commentary on a brand/organization I patronize I want to see honesty all around. Employees participating in such forums w/o declaring themselves as such are engaging in sock-puppetry which is decidedly black-hat.
Sock puppetry is strictly defined as using with multiple IDs on a forum to support your arguments, making your arguments look more popular than they really are. Many of us (especially those of who are working SM accounts or know enough to write about them) have multiple accounts on many different forums and have the opportunity to engage in sock-puppetry. Sometimes such account multiplicity has to do with lost passwords and sometimes we work multiple accounts for other reasons such as wanting to keep certain posts separate from our true IDs neither of which is necessarily sock-puppetry, it becomes sock-puppetry if via ID Alpha you say “apples are great” and then come back on with ID Beta and say “Alpha liking apples is a sign of an intelligent and super person”. If I as Alpha say “Apples are great” and then come as Beta and say “Skiers should obey the code” then we don’t have sock-puppetry as I am engaging in completely unrelated thought streams and not using the two accounts to support each other.
While employees boosting their employer’s SM efforts is not strictly sock-puppetry it is at least closely related. Find out what your employer’s policy on employees interacting with the company’s SM do not assume you have unlimited license in interacting with the company’s SM presence.
If you are creating an SM effort for your company make sure you develop a policy detailing what employees can do and what they should not do. This way your employees will not bring disrepute onto your efforts, or at least, you have leverage over them if you need to reign them in.
What to do about the disgruntled ex-employee? I suppose a pre-employment agreement can help, but I don’t think that would do too much. Any ideas?