Email, text messages, the Internet, and social media have transformed societal interaction. This brave new web 2.0 world offers businesses almost unlimited opportunity. Companies looking to build brand awareness can, with minimal financial investment, place their services and products in front of millions of potential customers without buying a traditional advertisement. As a result, most employers now embrace the promotional opportunities presented by employee blogging, online commentary, and social networking.
Yet the things that make social media and electronic modes of communication powerful marketing tools also make them fraught with danger. Long gone are the days of pleasant or at least obscure handwritten missives, typewritten letters and, to a lesser extent, phone calls and chats at the office watercooler. We communicate with friends, family, and colleagues in text, Twitter, or Facebook-length posts, sharing our "status" on a real-time basis often multiple times throughout the day. Our voices reach further still to an unlimited audience with online reviews, commentary, and blogs. The adages "think before you speak" and "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" frequently go unheeded in these indirect, sometimes anonymous and often instantaneous, interactions.