Captains reveal wide range of onboard social media use and policy
By Suzette Cook
While not every crew member signs the same confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement when they are hired, The Triton wanted to find out if there is a norm in policies addressing social media posting for crew. So we went straight to the captains to find out what they have to say about the policies they enforce on the yachts they manage.
Specifically, we wanted to find out what captains, crew and even guests on yachts are allowed to reveal about the yachts they travel on.
We started this month’s survey by finding out how prevalent social media use by captains is. We wanted to know how active captains are in the social media realm and what platforms they use the most. We asked Do you post on social media?
About 75 percent of the captains said yes, they use social media either for personal or professional reasons, but 25 percent of captains said they never touch the stuff.
We also looked at how often captains post on social media and discovered that there was a wide spectrum of levels of activity. About half, 48.6 percent said they post on a weekly basis, 30 percent report posting just once a month, 20 percent post up to three times a day and less than 3 percent said they post more than three times a day.
And to narrow down what social media is most popular with captains, we asked Which social media do you use for making posts?
Given the number of groups and forums out there we weren’t surprised that Facebook is what 92 percent of captains use to make posts. Instagram and YouTube tied for second with 21 percent and Twitter and “other” social media platforms came in third.
Their social media platform of choice was revealed when we asked Which social media do you post on the most?
Again, Facebook was the top choice at 87 percent, Twitter came in second at 7 percent and Instagram was the third choice at 5 percent.
And finally, we wanted to know what type of posts captains made the most. So we asked What do you post the most on social media? Photos were at the top of the list at 61 percent. Close to 31 percent spent most of their posting time sharing other posts, 5.5 percent posted videos and 2.8 percent said they posted memes.
Next we wanted to know if any of the yachts they managed actually had social media accounts. Perhaps yachts for charter used them to get the word out? We asked Does your yacht have a social media account?
A whopping 96 percent said “no” leaving just 4 percent of the captains revealing that their vessel did have a social media presence.
When asking about social media policy onboard, we wanted to know more than what the policy was for captains and crew, so we also asked if guests had rules to follow when posting. We started by addressing crew and social media by asking Is there a social media policy in place for crew addressing posts about yacht guests?
This was almost an even split with 54 percent saying “yes,” they did have a policy about crew posts involving information about yacht guests.
“None whatsoever,” said a captain of an 81-100-foot yacht with 15-19 years of experience. “The boss hates it,” he added.
Another captain revealed the verbal agreement on his 161 to 180-foot yacht was “ No pictures of any guests.”
“No Facebook, no Instagram no Twitter. No no no. This is a private yacht,” wrote a 20 to 24-year veteran captain of an 81 to 100-foot yacht.
Another captain brought up the point that guests and owners sometimes want to be posted about.
“Basic rules that abide by the various wishes of owners and guests. It’s more complicated now when sometimes the owners and guests want it to happen. General rule is posting selfies and crew shots is ok, posting shots with owner/guests is by express permission only,” said this captain of a 101 to 120-foot yacht with 30-34 years of experience.
One captain’s personal policy: “I do not post anything that has to do with my people. They will remain anonymous.”
A lot of no’s came out in this question including:
“No photos of guests or mentioning of their name.”
“No posting. Period.”
“We post nothing about the owner and guests.”
“Crew are to never say anything about the boat or guests on social media.”
“No photos, names, or stories. Nothing.”
“No current third party references or yacht business.”
“Strictly no mention of guests.”
“Discretion, not to name to boat or guests.”
“No posting of guests pictures or talking about guests.”
“Nothing about the boat ever.”
“No location, no information at all about owners or guests.”
Next, we asked about revealing the travel plans of the yacht. Is there a social media policy in place for crew addressing posts about yacht itinerary?
Fifty-eight percent said there was no policy about posting the yacht’s itinerary while 42 percent said there was a policy in place. “Crew are to never say anything about the boat or guests on social media,” commented a captain of 25-29 years working on a 101 to 20-foot yacht.
Others agreed with comments such as “No again. No you want to be fired? NO”and “Strictly no indication of itinerary.”
But one 30 to 34-year veteran captain of a 101 to 120-foot yacht reminded us that it’s not just crew and guests who are aware of a vessel’s location.
“For security reasons, advance notification of itinerary plans is not allowed,” the captain commented. “It’s actually a small point anymore, but often still exists. With AIS, and real-time satellite tracking availability in the extreme cases, the entire issue has become moot.”
What about colleagues posting about each other? We asked Is there a social media policy in place for crew addressing posts about fellow crew?
This question revealed that there are fewer restrictions for crew posting about crew. A majority, 66 percent, of captains said they had no policy in place, while 34 percent said they did.
“They have to agree to it,” said one captain of a 101 to 120-foot yacht. “Personally, I haven’t seen it be an issue of contention.”
Other comments reiterated the importance of confidentiality.
“Keep all interactions private, no public postings.”
“Post about operation is verboten.”
“No no no social media.”
What about the guest onboard? we wondered. Can the captain and crew remain undocumented or can guest do whatever they want? Does your yacht owner or company have a social media policy for guests?
We weren’t too surprised to see that 86 percent of captains said there are no restrictions on social media posts for guests onboard.
Captains who answered yes to this question offered explanations.
“Guests may share their experiences, but no photos of the crew or captain,” commented one captain.
Another captain of a 161 to 180-foot yacht explained what happens if a guest doesn’t follow policy.
“The owner is extremely private and does not wish to have anything onboard posted,” he commented. “ If a guest violates his wishes, they are never allowed back.”
Another commented, “Don’t post anything about the yacht.”
Can the captain and crew fraternize in the social media realm with guests? We asked Are you or your crew allowed to connect on social media through “follows” “likes” or “friends” with guests?
A majority of 60 percent said “it’s fine.”
“At guest’s request,” commented a captain of a 101 to 129-foot yacht with 25-29 years of experience.
Another made a similar comment, “If specifically invited by regular guest as with long-term crew.”
“It is allowed, but I always advise to be cautious,” stated another captain.
A captain of an 81-100-foot yacht brought up that it works both ways. It’s not always about protecting the guest’s privacy.
“I always encourage the crew to keep a professional distance and not become FB buddies,” he commented. “We, as a crew, don’t need the owners and guests seeing how much or little shenanigans we get into.”
Other captains stated that while the policy is not written, they advise against social media connections between crew and guests.
“Does not happen, but no rule,” commented one captain.
Sometimes, the crew isn’t interested in connecting with a guest when asked.
“We have not addressed this specific issue,” commented a captain of a 121 to 140-foot yacht. “But an owner requested my chief stew for a friend on FB. She ignored her online and sidestepped the question the next time they came aboard. Too much involvement.”
Another captain said it was not for him to decide.
“That’s an agreement between two people I will not interfere with.”
What happens when a post is made that violates policy? We asked Have you ever asked a crew member to remove a post or comment they made on social media having to do with the yachting industry?
While a majority of the captains said they hadn’t (68 percent) 32 percent said they did have to request the removal of a post having to do with yacht business.
“They posted a picture of the boat,” said a captain of an 81 to 100-foot yacht.
“He mentioned a guest’s name and showed that guest in a less than flattering photo,” commented a captain of a 161 to 180-foot yacht.
Another captain of a 161 to 180-foot yacht with 20 -24 years of experience explained how he made his request for a crewmember to remove a post. “Some junior crew don’t realize the implications of inappropriate posting. I only suggest that they reconsider their post,” he said.
One captain reminded us of how serious the policy is enforced, “The crew member better have not posted anything or he/she is gone,” he commented.
How strict is social media policy when it comes to listing the name of your yacht in your online profile, we wondered.
We asked Are you and your crew allowed to list the yacht you work for in social media profiles?
Yes, it’s fine, responded more than 60 percent of the captains.
“As long as it’s just a photo that might show vessel name. No more,” commented one captain.
Another captain commented, “Never came up, but it just wouldn’t be welcome.”
“No current policy is in place as it has not been an issue as of yet,” commented a captain of a 121 to 140-foot yacht.
“Case by case,” another captain commented.
Social media can be used to build a team or create a group with a common cause.
We asked captains if they encourage this with their crew. Do you use Social media to build a team or connect with your crew? Most captains (69 percent) said they didn’t prevent or encourage crew from connecting via social media and that they didn’t monitor that activity.
More than 16 percent said this activity was against yacht policy. And 8 percent of the captains surveyed said they preferred the crew connect with each other and that they joined the connection also.
And finally, we wanted to know how much of a tool social media is for captains to research potential crew with. We asked Do you look up potential crew on social media to see what their online presence is?
Sixty-two percent said yes, they did look up candidates.
“Every Time!” commented a captain of a 101 to 120-foot yacht.
“Too many pictures with beer bottles or cocktails, and there’s no interview,” commented another captain. And one captain regrets not looking at one crew member’s social media presence.
“We recently hired a chef who turned out to be a nut. Looking at his facebook profile would have avoided this mistake,” he commented.
To that note we asked Have you declined to hire a crew member based on what you have seen on their social media accounts?
Yes said 38 of the captains surveyed.
“I filter out obvious party animals,” said one captain.
“Said non-smoker, light drinker and guess what the first photo was? A cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other,” commented a captain of a 141 to 160-foot yacht.