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Positive and negative sides of social media in the workplace...



Emoloyees or people in search of employment can make use of technology and social media to assist them with finding jobs, recruiting new employees and networking with others in their field. 


More than ever people are networking themselves using sites like Monster.com, LinkedIn.com or other more specialized sites to get their resumes seen and meet others in their field (or the field they’d like to enter).  By becoming visible and participating in groups that are trying to accomplish likeminded goals, an individual can open doors that may not have been available to them before. 


In her article discussing how social media helps and hurts potential employees, Jacquelyn Smith states, "...half of all job seekers are active on social networking sites on a daily basis, and more than a third of all employers utilize these sites in their hiring process" (Smith).  

1. Visibility

People searching for jobs can market themselves online by creating online profiles that highlight any skills or special talents and making themselves easily searchable to recruiters and companies.  

2. Networking

By making themselves visible online, people have the opportunity to network with others in their field on a global level opening up endless possibilities for themselves.

3. Opportunity

Using social media creatively can give a person an opportunity in a new field that may not be reflected in their resume. (Ex: a person would like to be a product designer but spent their career as an accountant can show off their skills in their professional profile).



Employers that make use of social media are at a unique advantage to build their brand and directly connect with customers. “When a social media site is used for a business, it enlarges the conversation through buzzes that would call out the brand name. A company must be truly dedicated towards conversation through social media, as much as the customers are” (Edosomwan 8).  These days, many companies consider having a Twitter handle or Facebook page part of their brand.  Having access to customers, press and potential partners in this way allows companies to make announcements, engage customers in sales or contests and attract those that might want to work for or with them.

As a tool, employers have the ability to use social media to assist with work efforts including collaborative projects. By using tools such as wikis and social gathering technology (such as Google+ Hangout) employers are able to encourage team building exercises between their employees and with their clients. In their article addressing the challenges of social media Michael Haenlein and Andreas Kaplan state, "From a corporate perspective, firms must be aware that collaborative projects are trending toward becoming the main source of information for many consumers" (Haenlein 62). 


Employers can also use social networking as a tool for recruiting or potential employee verification.  Sites like Linkedin.com, Monster.com and Dice.com allow people to post resumes, create profiles that further connect their online presence (a personal website, portfolio, etc.) and communicate with other professionals in their fields.  Employers can use these profiles and groups to search for people with skills that may be needed or simply use networking connections to form business relationships that may not have otherwise been formed.


1. Engagement & Brand Recognition

Businesses can now connect directly with their customers and clients via the communication provided by social media.  Customers can actively participate with businesses via these tools. Companies have the ability to use social media to gain visibility with potential customers at minimal cost.  Business owners also have the potential to break ground in global markets.

2. Collaboration

Companies are now able to use social media tools to promote collaboration between clients and employees without the concern of the constraints of time and space.

3. Recruiting

Recruiters can use social media tools like professional social networking websites to seek out potential employees or discover new hiring trends in their business.


In this video presentation Boehringer Ingelheim group (one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies) discusses the possibilities and consequences that come with an employees' online presences:

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(Social 2012).

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While individuals can benefit greatly from social media, there can also be downsides to getting a spotlight with a large audience.  When individuals create an online presence via social media they are responsible for the content and image that they are presenting.  They must be vigilant about what version of themselves they are showing to the world because the world is in fact watching.  In his writing on Embracing and Controlling Social Media in the Workplace - Ten Rules, Ethan Zelizer has good basic rule when questioning whether or not content is appropriate when he says, "...start with two guiding principles: first, would you want your mother reading what you just posted; and second, would you feel comfortable seeing what you just wrote on the cover of the Wall Street Journal?" (Zelizer 7).


Individuals must also be mindful of their social connections within social networking sites.  Is it ok to 'friend' coworkers? Your boss?  What happens if you choose not to 'friend' a coworker and there is retaliation as a result? What happens when a person feels harassed by a coworker on a social networking site?  What happens when an individual sees a post from a coworker that suggests they are doing something to harm the company?  What happens when you have friended coworkers and someone in your social network posts content on your profile that you would not want coworkers to see?  These are all situations that an individual must consider when using social media in combination with the workplace.  While a social media policy at work may cover a lot of situations like these, in the end it is up to the individual to make choices about who they let into their online circle.


Privacy online is one of the most highly debated topics since the Internet began to gain popularity.  Not just with social media websites but any site that collects user information and stores it in a database is a risk for privacy concerns.  With social media in particular, people are voluntarily providing content about their personal and professional lives and if they are not careful when reading a site's privacy policy or with maintaining the privacy settings that are available then they are at risk for 'sharing' a lot more than they may have intended.


1. Content Management

When individuals aren't vigilant about the content they are posting on the social media groups that they participate in they put himself or herself at risk for loss of employment or even loss of potential employment.  Likewise, people must be mindful of the content that their connections post on their profiles because that too can cause harm to their reputation online.

2. Workplace Socialization in Social Media

There are some very serious situations that can arise as a result of socializing with coworkers within the digital world.  Individuals must think ahead and make solid judgments about who they will let into to their social circles online in order to prevent situations that could cause harm from occurring.

3. Individual Privacy

Individual privacy should always be a concern when using the Internet but particularly in social media where people tend to share so much about their personal lives.  Individuals that are not mindful of the privacy policy and settings on the websites they use are putting themselves at risk for distribution of their personal information.



Just as there are positives for employers when using social media there are some very important negative points that must be considered before a company can simply decide how to draft a social media policy.  While social media creates fast and direct engagement with customers or clients, any mistakes will be hard to withdraw once they have been published.  Although mistakes happen, they can do a lot of damage to a company and brand in just a short time.  As is the case with many technologies, social media can be hacked, altered and impersonated by anyone with the right motivation.  Companies that are not vigilant with security over passwords and account access could fall victim (Meister 1). 


Social media can put a drain on company resources by distracting employees, if they are allowed to use social media at work or by becoming a financial burden by policing sites that employees may try to visit, they are not allowed to use social media at work.


Social media and particularly social networking can cause privacy concerns between employers and employees when employees use their personal accounts to discuss their jobs or interact with other employees in inappropriate ways.  Companies must be careful to consider this when drafting their social media policies so that they do not overstep their line with employee privacy but also to protect employees from harassment and any other situations that may arise. 


1. Negative Viral Content & Hacking Risks

With such a large audience and lightning speed delivery, social media can hurt a company that mistakenly shares content not intended for the public. Companies that do not maintain the proper level of security are at risk for their social media connections being hacked. Hackers (whether internal or external) can cause a large amount of harm by impersonating an entire company to their customers and clients.

2. Employee Productivity

Employee productivity can suffer when too much access to social media is granted.  Instead of working, employees may take advantage of access to virtual communities or simply be distracted by the sheer amount of information being provided.

3. Employee Relations

Businesses have to navigate the waters of employee privacy carefully when drafting social media policies so that they do not overstep their bounds.  In addition, employers must consider cases of inter-company harassment cases that could appear as a result of social media connections between employees.

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