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It is very stressful when a company requires you to write content for marketing/advertisement/promotion of the company in your own social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram. Since this is where my friends look at my posts and where I share my personal stories, I really want to separate work and my personal social media account.

I know many people avoid this from companies. Are there any strategies or ways to solve this type of problem, such as creating a new Instagram/Facebook account... and fake it like it's your actual account you use everyday.

P.S. It is a non-profit corporation. Their purpose is to raise awareness of blah blah blah, so they want marketing volunteer members to use their personal social media accounts and their followers/friends...

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Snow Jun 12 at 5:42
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    I disagree this is a duplicate, because this question is about whether volunteers can be required to use their personal social capital to promote the mission of a not-for-profit. – O. Jones Jun 12 at 12:42
  • but if you work for a non-profit shouldn't you approve of their aims? – WendyG Jun 12 at 16:17
  • My feeling is that social media are not social and not media. I agree with Linus Torvalds saying they are toxic and addictive. Facebook and Instagram might be considered as harmful as tobacco manufacturers. So you might consider instead using a lot less Facebook or Instagram in your personal life. You'll have more time for a more interesting lifestyle (e.g. seeing real friends in real life). If you use less Facebook, your employer might pressure you less to use it for astrturfing. – Basile Starynkevitch Jun 12 at 17:02
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Promoting the company on your personal accounts, without disclosure that you're an employee, is called Astroturfing. It's a good way to annoy your real friends and family and it may cause some people to eye anything you post with skepticism (they may think you have a "money making angle").

It might even be a violation of Facebook's Terms of Service. It's worth reading through those and finding a way out through those.

In the meantime, do the following:

  • Lock down your personal social media accounts so that only people you're connected with can see what you post.
  • Disconnect your personal social media accounts from anyone you work with, or anyone connected to people you work with.
  • Create alternate accounts tied to your work email address and use those for nothing but promoting the company. Feel free to add anyone and everyone from work there.

Or, just don't engage in the activity at all.

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    @ilie I don't think it matters if it's a non-profit or not. Your employer is being cheap with their advertising and instead of spending a bit of money to do it properly, they're asking you to expend your "social capital" by promoting the organization to your friends and family. If I were in your network, I'd stop following you, de-friend you, or start reporting the unwelcome advertisements as spam. Just like I would do for people pushing their MLM scheme "parties" (Scentsy, 31, etc.). – alroc Jun 11 at 2:14
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    You wrote "marketing volunteers". So the way to get out of this is not to volunteer. – DJClayworth Jun 11 at 2:39
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    ... and if they pressure you to "volunteer" in such a way that it is unavoidable for you to do so then create a fake account (sorry: alternate account) with as many links to random people as you can find on the internet but no links to your friends and family. – P. Hopkinson Jun 11 at 9:28
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    Forget the Facebook Terms & Conditions: If OP lives in (or works for a company based in) certain location - including, but not limited to, the USA, the European Union, and Australia - then this may be illegal depending how OP is being told to carry it out. – Chronocidal Jun 11 at 13:19
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    Being a non profit means nothing. A company that tries to alter popular opinion can be a non profit and have extremely sinister motives, like affecting election results / lobbying for major policies. Usually it's non profits / NGOs funded by big industries that do such things. – K. Gkinis Jun 11 at 20:32
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You absolutely must not use your personal account for any such things. Under no circumstances. It is dishonest. If they “raise awareness” by dishonesty, then their goals are compromised from the start.

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    Nothing wrong with sharing on a personal page, if it's presented honestly. I personally would have no problem telling people where I work and what we make. But if I have to lie or pretend I have no affiliation with it when I do, that's dishonest. – Keith Jun 11 at 11:55
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    Obviously if you are forced to put something on your page and don’t mention that you were pressured like OP then it is dishonest. – gnasher729 Jun 11 at 11:59
  • @Keith: More like everything wrong with that. It's inherently dishonest. You're artificially encouraged/coerced to do so. Also, commercial for-profit advertising is detrimental, if not toxic, to atmosphere on social media in general. – einpoklum Jun 12 at 14:14
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    I think we're talking of different things. There's a difference between one willingly sharing and being coerced to share. – Keith Jun 12 at 14:39
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I would push back hard on this and not just because I strongly believe in the separation of work and personal lives. I'd push back because this isn't the correct way to leverage social media to promote a business.

Having a strong social media presence is important but it's equally important, if not more, that the presence be strongly tied to the business and not its employees. The company should have its own business page on Facebook and should post its content to that page (and post it as the page). They should then pay to promote their posts to increase exposure to whatever they want their target audience to be. Not only will this reach more people but it will do it in a way that won't alienate people and ruin the friendships of the employees.

The same goes for Twitter, Instagram and whatever other social media platforms they want to engage. Create a business account that does the posting and pay to promote it. If employees want, they can choose to like and share those posts with their personal accounts but that becomes a choice, not a requirement, since the company is already paying to create exposure.

That said, the company can make it a requirement that employees contribute to the content that gets posted to the business account as part of their regular duties, but that content would still be posted as the business and not the employee.

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Another option is to use Facebook's option to filter your updates. This way, you can decide who can see it and who cannot. You can even set it to: "No one can see this" or "Only X person/page etc can see this".

This way you can post it without annoying or showing it to anyone else.

Here's a link that explains how to do the basic stuff: https://www.facebook.com/help/120939471321735

  • Is it possible to do something more sophisticated where you can share updates with whole groups of people? – P. Hopkinson Jun 11 at 9:30
  • Certainly, the system is quite flexible. – Sander Skovgaard Hansen Jun 11 at 10:09
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    This was the suggestion I'd make. You can put lists of people in a group and share to that group ONLY. You can also share by geographical location. Learn to use that -- it's quite powerful.That way, your And the people who will see it won't have a clue. – Keith Jun 11 at 11:48
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    This is a passive-aggressive workaround, not a solution. It's also totally unacceptable if you already had an existing following before your current employer. it's only one step away from deactivating your account. The solution to your employer asking you to do something unethical/illegal/spammy is generally to point out why it's unethical/illegal, then politely but firmly refuse to do it. (If employer wants to create a new 'official' company account or persona, clearly identified as being commercial and linked to the company, that's best.) – smci Jun 12 at 0:25
  • While that is entirely true, the question doesn't actually ask how to solve this ethically, it asks, how can I solve this easily, without conflict. While I would normally give ethical choices as well, many answers already did so, so there was no reason for me to repeat them. – Sander Skovgaard Hansen Jun 12 at 5:33
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"Must" you do it? That's a legal question, and in many countries (see other answers) the answer will vary. Check your own country for laws and check your social media.platform T&Cs for rules you must follow.

But legalities aside, the answer should be a hard line "no" from you, even if allowed. Many reasons:

  • You may suffer socially or reputationally yourself (friends stop being interested, you are viewed as tainted or less trusted in what you say, or a paid "shill")

  • If your employer has a problem, it becomes your personal problem. Suppose they have a disgrace and you've spent 3 years on your personal feeds saying how they can be trusted, they're good, and initially defending them, even if you leave, the taint, drama and distrust may follow you, and be your own personal taint, drama and distrust.

  • If you want to sever ties (new employer etc), it's harder. You just spent 3 years posting about their wonderfulness.

  • If you need to comment critically on your company (say you observe rampant sexism or abuse,or other matters you want to raise publicly), or even comment on other things, or engage people as you usually do, then some kinds of posts may well be against your terms of employment, if the social media account is used for work purposes as part of your job.

    Example. You work for.MacDonalds. You enjoy a delicious WimpyBurger and post about it. Your manager is furious and wants a disciplinary matter on your file - how dare you praise a competitor or be seen visiting one, on a platform they're paying you to promote them! Or you want to criticise a political matter/social issue, which conflicts with your employer's "official" position, and he is furious that you're undermining their official corporate position on media they're paying you to promote it, or where they have a policy of saying nothing/being neutral! If the social media account is used for your work, he probably has a case. If it isn't, he probably doesn't.

    So it is really important to.separate work and personal social media most times, otherwise your entire personal social media life (work and non work!) can become governed by your work contractual terms and office rules.

3

This use of social media might require you to, in your post, disclose your relationship with the company. This issue has come up with social media "influencers" endorsing products without disclosing that they had been compensated for these activities.

In the US specifically the FTC rules say that...

"When a connection exists between the influencer and an advertiser that might materially affect the weight or credibility of an endorsement, the connection must be fully disclosed. If an influencer simply mentions a product that he or she paid for out-of-pocket as an ordinary consumer, then there is unlikely to be an FTC issue. However, if an advertiser pays an influencer or gives him or her them something of value to mention a product, then he or she must disclose that information."

(emphasis mine)

You can bring this up to your boss, saying that you will only post messages on social media if they are followed by the statement:

"I am an employee of XXX company and am being compensated for this post"

But still...

Ultimately, this may not solve your issue. If your boss already knows your true social media accounts, you could try altering the permissions of your posts so no one sees them. Still, it seems like the best solution is to push back against this requirement. If you do it firmly, but privately, your boss may decide it is not worth the hassle to argue and exempt you from this policy. They also may try to fire you if this is an integral part of your job.

https://www.gsblaw.com/newsroom-alerts-social-media-endorsements-disclosure-brands-influencers-ftc-compliance

  • Yes, the first part of this answer is especially very important. OP needs to be careful about this or they may be breaking the laws in their home country and/or in other countries into which their organization is advertising. – reirab Jun 11 at 21:19
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You mention that you volunteer your time, this actually matters to the situation unless you are somehow forced to volunteer.

Some people suggest making extra profiles. I would only consider that if your livelihood depended on it, as unless you really are going to take that serious and build a proper network on your professional account you are just wasting time that could have been spent on something more useful.

The company asks you to do this, the simple workaround is not doing it.

If this is a major job of the role, consider giving up the role. If this is a minor part of the role, just don't do it (or simply say 'I will think about it'). I would be surprised if you get kicked out for something minor.

One thing to think about is that your individual participation in this way of promoting may be minor, but that the general spirit of promoting this way is important. I would therefore avoid speaking about this in public as that will lead you to discouraging others who may be quite happy to spread the word like this. If you are asked about this, just discuss it in a 1 to 1 with the person in charge and keep the situation healthy.

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I think everyone has jumped well off the bandwagon here... as typically happens in Workplace. Pitch forks everywhere!


I think you mean, you're required to use a personal account to be able to manage the company's Facebook (and other) accounts. This isn't your company's rule - this is Facebook's rule.

This is just how Facebook has set things up. It's their way of getting more accounts, even if they aren't real.

It's really unfortunate.

I created a fake Facebook account using a fake name and a free Gmail address to get around this problem. You can too.

You just have to be able to login to Facebook - no rule says it must actually be a personal account that you use for anything else!

When you make a post on a page you are a manager of (your company's page), only other managers can see who actually posted - to the public, all they see is your company's name or Facebook page name. That's just for accountability since any manager can post on the account.

So, in summary:

1) Make a fake email account.

2) Make a fake Facebook account.

3) Get another employee at your company that's already a Facebook manager to setup your new fake Facebook account as a manager account.

4) Post away like you normally would.

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    OP clearly states he has to add advertising for his employer to his personal facebook (etc.) feeds. That's quite different from the scenario you're using here. – jwenting Jun 12 at 4:05
  • @jwenting where's op say that exactly? Op says they write things in their account, ie. While logged into their account. That's how it works... There's no other way on Facebook. – SnakeDoc Jun 12 at 6:29
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    "write content in your own account" reads to me as creating content in your own feed. Any sensible company would have a corporate account that's used by their marketing and PR departments to publish to the company feed. – jwenting Jun 12 at 9:14
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    -1, this does not answer the question for the reason stated by @jwenting. See OP's final paragraph: "they want marketing volunteer members to use their personal social media accounts and their followers/friends". It is clear that the NPO wants OP to market on his personal account, not merely to use his personal account to post on the company's page. – Jon Bentley Jun 12 at 13:55

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