What Elon Musk Has Taught Us About Social Media

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Most of us have come to expect routine background checks as part of the hiring process. We’re savvy enough to know that employers (and others) will view our social media sites. In fact, the number of organizations that routinely conduct social media screenings as part of the employment process has gone up, by some estimates as high as 500 percent, and that organizations will often hire experts to do it. But did you know that the trend is now taking a different direction, with large corporations now checking in on CEOs and others in leadership roles?

Even rocket scientists are prone to social media missteps

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Elon Musk. He’s a well known figure for many reasons, primarily through his innovations with Tesla and SpaceX. However, Elon Musk is on the leading edge of another, more dubious innovation and trend.

Musk’s use of social media for public relations, as well as his high-profile personality and colorful actions broadcast online, are putting him in an unflattering spotlight that is causing investors to question whether he should be the face of their brand, and if he’s fit to lead a company. Specifically, Musk has used Twitter to replace the traditional corporate public relations department with some interesting results.

While his public visibility and recognition for his brands are at all an time high, Musk’s investors and business associates are concerned about how his use of Twitter impacts their bottom line — including stock valuations. As a result, other organizations, wary of developing an off-brand reputation, are more closely reviewing the social media and online evidence of their respective CEOs.

How social media and online evidence are being used to screen c-suite candidates

Experts conducting social media investigations and online evidence gathering are looking not only for illegal or just misguided activities, but also evidence of character. In the era of #MeToo, this is an important measure for companies to take in order to uphold both reputation and character perception of their employees. New laws such as those in New York prohibit harassment and allow social media evidence, which makes it important for companies to take preventative measures to protect their organizational culture and prevent liability issues.

Businesses also want to make sure that their leadership team presents a public persona that aligns with the company’s values, whether for environmental responsibility, morality, altruism, family values, or other characteristics that might reflect on the organization as a whole. While discrimination issues come into play during hiring, executives may be held to a higher standard that comes with higher level visibility and authority.

For those reasons, there are issues surrounding both the collection, documentation, and reporting process. As a third-party provider of social media and online evidence reporting, the certified analysts at SMI Aware recommend that you understand what is legally permissible. Our team can also assist with regular reporting and screening during the hiring process to ensure that your organization is hiring candidates whose values align with yours from the get-go.