Looking in the mirror: professional virtual boundaries & social media

In my first year of my doctoral program I was fortunate to meet a colleague who had as much online/social media experience as me – few of my fellow social work colleagues and faculty in our school used (even now) online social media much beyond LinkedIn for professional contacts and maybe Facebook for personal connections –  forget about blogging, Tumblr, Twitter or the like.

When I began graduate school my department did not use social media sites to promote and market their activities and programs. I asked if I could create and maintain a Twitter site for the Center and now I share Twitter duties with other graduate students. I enjoy working with others in the Center to think about how to effectively use social media to promote the Center’s activities.

One of the things I make sure to emphasize when I talk about using Twitter or other social media (our Center also has a Facebook page and a blog) is the reciprocal nature of social media. A lot of professionals use Twitter and Facebook in a one-way direction to share their organization’s (or professional) activities/news/etc. But I often remind others who are starting to use Twitter professionally that it’s not just about a mass news blast to the “Twitterverse” but that social media done best is done relationally. That means paying attention to who else is out there that is similar to you or your organization and “following” or “liking” their social media page. It means thanking new followers on Twitter for following you. It means when someone you follow or like posts, a news story link or message that you “re-tweet” or “share” rather than posting it as your own. It means commenting on other blogs and linking other blogs on your blog as well.  It means making connections between fellow online relationships that you think would benefit from knowing each other.To me this is what social work is all about!

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my mantras in almost all social work (and beyond) situations is parallel processing. So in the same ways that we social workers tend to think about social media as a client (practice) issue, I want to encourage our profession to see it as a professional and organizational issue as well, beyond the issue of just client concerns (i.e. clients engaging in problematic behaviors on social media sites) which is where most of the emphasis on social media is currently situated.

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Virtual Boundaries: Ethical Considerations for the Use of Social Media in Social Work

My colleague Ericka Kimball and I are presenting on ethical considerations in the use of social media in the social work profession for our local chapter of NASW this afternoon. A lot has been discussed already about the professional-client dyad or using social media for professional development, but we are focusing on the ethical sticky issues that crop up between colleagues and within agencies or organizations regarding social media.

Here is the description of our presentation:

Virtual Boundaries: Ethical Considerations for the Use of Social Media in Social Work
Ericka Kimball, MSW, LGSW, U of MN-Twin Cities
Jae Ran Kim, MSW, LGSW, U of MN – Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
The National Association of Social Work (NASW) and Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) published standards for the use of technology is social work practice in 2005.  This guide provides a starting point in considering ethical guidelines of the use of social media in personal and professional contexts. However, given the rapid adoption of social networks and microblogs since 2005, there are some areas that need further consideration.  This presentation will begin the discussion of examining the personal and professional uses of social media; the benefits and pitfalls of using social media; and the ethical issues and policies that guide the use of social media by social workers.