Social Media and the Workplace

Social media plays an important role in communicating, branding, and messaging in today’s workplace.   Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are used every day.  Companies are actively adding and contributing to existing social media presences online.  Social media is a powerful tool companies use to reach audiences who may never be exposed to other marketing vehicles. 

As social media becomes more common in the workplace, concerns about its distractions and impact on time management and productivity remain.  Managers expect employees to utilize these accounts for work purposes, such as recruitment, outreach, promotion, and brand reinforcement, rather than as an opportunity to contact friends and family members or research job opportunities.  Data from the Pew Research Center found that 56% of survey respondents indicated that social media platforms are a distraction at work. 

Common personal reasons for accessing social media during work include:

  • Searching for new career opportunities, including reviewing company profiles and key contacts.
  • Contacting family and friends.
  • Gaining information about coworkers, including personal details such dating status and sexual orientation.
  • Planning events (parties, vacations, etc.).
  • Building a personal and professional network.

For employees who want to be viewed as strong performers at work, social media can present a barrier to success, up to and including termination, if use is not managed properly.  In the digital age, someone once viewed as a high potential leader for the future of the company, can change that perception with one click of the mouse.

Below are a few key strategies to remember in order to be social media savvy at work:

  • Time an employee is not working is lost revenue to the company.
  • Social media sites can make the company vulnerable to malware or a security breaches and allow hackers to gain access to sensitive employee, company, and client data.
  • Know the company policy on electronic and social media, and live by it-not as a suggestion, but as a requirement with associated consequences.
  • Assume all company systems are monitored, because they are.  Access to personal information on a company system is done at a personal risk.
  • Timestamps on social media reveal when content was posted, and this can be used to track accountability of employee timekeeping and deliverables.
  • Do not make derogatory remarks about an employer online.
  • Do not post anything you would not want the world to know.
  • Any inappropriate information, even, in some cases, information posted on personal accounts, can result in termination.

Think like a manger every day at work.  Engage in productive and professional activities that demonstrate an ability to leverage skills and deliver on or ahead of schedule.  The ability to produce quality content that impacts the company’s bottom line will build professional and social capital at work, leading to advancement. 

This is not to suggest there is not a time and place for social media at work, if it aligns with the functions of the job.  However, to conduct social media activities at work for personal gain is irresponsible and does not make good use of company time and resources. 

In today’s workplace, employers can observe activity like never before.  Keep this in mind and use good judgement in developing a social media presence.


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