Will social media be out of date at some point?

Help, my boss is on Facebook! This is how you master the tightrope act

There it flashes, the little red icon. Obvious. Your boss sent you a friend request on Facebook. What to do? Breaking out in panic? Accept the request - and then meticulously adjust all privacy settings? To ignore? Or even: reject it? The social media interaction with the Supervisor is a tightrope act. We spoke to communication consultant Anne Lektiven - she explains how to master the interaction with colleagues and the boss in social networks.

Hierarchies in the social web - outdated and outdated?

In day-to-day work, the hierarchies are as clear as day. The vice president stands above you, the project manager below you - but on Facebook? We all communicate on an equal footing, preaches the internet. But what happens when the hierarchies of a company that are manifest in everyday life are transferred to social media? Does the principle of hierarchy still apply? “Hierarchies are blurred on the Internet, that's right,” says Anne Lracht. “And not only there. For example they are Hierarchies in startups often flat and barely noticeable in everyday office work. Nevertheless, there are still many areas of work in which hierarchical structures play a major role. In such companies, caution is required when meeting the boss on social media. "

Although young employees and managers nowadays often have a more relaxed understanding of hierarchies and teamwork, not everyone sees a friend request from the boss calmly. Is there a reaction with which one can skilfully pull oneself out of the affair?

Respond to friend requests from colleagues

To ignore?

Close your eyes, be deaf - at some point will the boss forget the request? D rather not. Because that could offend the superiors.


Not the best option either. “If you use Facebook purely for private purposes, I would advise against accepting the friend request from your boss. You can still adjust your privacy settings if you clicked on “accept” too quickly, ”says Anne Lektiven. But regardless of whether you accept the boss's request or not, you should be aware that any contribution can land on the boss's desk. If you want to share nagging comments about work or embarrassing party photos, you should be careful. "It can always be the case, for example, that someone with other private attitudes distributes the contribution - so the manager might see it after all."

By the way, the following rule of thumb also applies to networking with colleagues: If you talk to Beate from accounting about private matters at work, networking is not a problem. Otherwise, think twice before clicking the confirmation button.

So what?

If ignoring and accepting the friend request in question are omitted, what options are left? “Personally, I would seek a conversation with the relevant colleague or supervisor and easily explain that the Facebook account is only used privately. That should be for everyone good and media-savvy boss be an understandable argument, ”says L Bäumen. "It also shows that the employee uses social networks responsibly." The alternative: Propose networking via classic business networks - good professional contact can be worth its weight in gold. And in the end you both benefit from this.

“By the way: Twitter can also be a good option - as a public network, personal acquaintance plays a subordinate role there. You can position yourself professionally with qualified comments. However, anyone who uses their account purely for private purposes - only commenting on trash series or letting the angry citizen hang out - should be careful. Then a protected account might be the right choice. Each follower can be confirmed manually here. "

Social media guidelines for executives

The other way around there are also rules that you should adhere to. As a head of department, you could get your team in an uncomfortable situation with a rash friend request. So consider your corporate culture and your relationship with the respective employee.

While start-up employees usually deal with social media interaction in a relaxed manner, this can quickly become a stumbling block for a long-established insurance company. "In general, I would advise executives in hierarchical companies against sending their employees friend requests on Facebook if they have nothing to do with each other privately - that could act like an invasion of privacy and the employee who may consciously separate work from private life to put you in an uncomfortable situation. On other platforms - LinkedIn for example - a contact request can be a positive signal. It conveys: I am interested in my employees.“

More practical tips

In order to survive the tension between social media and job-related hierarchies without prejudice to herself, Anne Lracht has a few more pieces of advice in store:

  • Maintain professionalism.Regardless of the platform, you should be with the Interaction with his professional environmentalways the necessary professionalism put on the day. Otherwise you should orient yourself to the tonality of the network.
  • Do the "newspaper test". Before you post anything, ask yourself: How would I like my comment to be in the newspaper tomorrow? What if not only my boss but also Grandma Erna can read it? If this is okay with you, you can click on "post" with confidence.
  • Don't be too tense. Don't let online interaction spoil you and try to stay relaxed. Ultimately, social media should be fun!

About Anne L Bäumen

Anne Lenze is a consultant for digital, political and strategic communication with many years of experience in Brussels and Berlin. Her customers include public institutions as well as companies and NGOs. She also moderates events on a regular basis and works on projects in the film and fashion sectors.