Social media is where it’s all happening these days. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others have transformed how we communicate, both personally and professionally. I know it has affected me in both ways. I discovered I was losing a customer when I saw a post he had made on Facebook about going a different direction. And I get invited to my grandchildren’s birthday parties on Facebook by way of clicking I’m interested and going to an event.
So I caught a client ‘red-handed’ and made it uncomfortable for both of us when I replied to his post, “Is there something going on I should know?” And I have to wonder if I didn’t have a computer, much less a Facebook account, would I not be invited to my grandchildren’s birthday parties? Gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?
The Original Intentions Have Gone Awry
The original intention of these varied social media platforms was for friends to connect. Not for businesses to gain customers or customers complain about businesses and certainly not for employees or students to bash employers and school. Social media can create an awkward situation as described above in my own personal experience.
The tools that these social media platforms have given us allow people and organizations to speak directly to each other, whether you know one another or not. On the personal side, we get to know people that we may never have met, broadening our range of “friends”. It is used to look for jobs.
And on the business side, it allows a company to receive/solicit responses from the general public. It is an affordable and quick way to get their branding “out there” to the masses. It is used for networking and recruiting.
Today, these online platforms have become extremely popular by companies to use as a tool for recruiting and screening potential employees as well as watching over current employees and competitors. The Society for Human Resource Management conducted a survey in 2011 and found that over 55% of companies now use social media to find their candidates. That is up over 30% from 2008.
Over one-fourth of the employers said they go online to check the social media profiles of their candidates. This gives them the information they aren’t allowed to ask in an interview or on a job application. Those personal details like a person’s age, gender, race, or their political, religious, or sexual orientation. In an interview setting, asking these things is a violation of anti-discrimination laws.
Dismissals and Lawsuits Are Getting Rampant
Employees not only turn use social media for their personal reasons like posting their weekend activities and antics (or inviting grandparents to birthday parties), they also post comments that are related to jobs. And as such, social media is a way to get reprimanded or fired from a job as well as having a job offer rescinded, even after going through all the of the interviewing, paperwork, and testing.
Like HMV, an electronic retailer in the UK that laid off 100’s of employees in January 2013. Among those laid off was the online marketing and social media planner. She had created a live-tweet about the employees’ dismissals. Or the waitress that was fired from a popular restaurant that posted a picture of a customer’s handwritten note on a bill “I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?”
And in court, a tweet that is unfavorable has ended with employees being fired. Such as in 2010 when a woman in looked for her co-worker’s in a community group, Hispanics United of Buffalo got her and the others fired. They were dismissed for violating the internal harassment policy they company has in place.
It was found that the law protected the employers because they were discussing work issues by ruling from a National Labor Relations Board. The guidelines set by the NLRB state that what was not protected on social media were the “rants” and using the company logos. The message here for employers is to be mindful when they implement ‘courtesy clauses’, and prohibit the use of colorful language or distasteful critiques and remarks on social media platforms, it can be seen as restricting an employees’ right to criticize their employer in public.
Great Opportunities Are Being Missed
For broadcasting internal corporate communications, businesses have been slow to get on the social media platform, though. In 2011, the International Association of Business Communicators did a research that found just over 15% of companies were using social media with any frequency to engage their employees and create productivity. Of that group, 23% did so occasionally and just over 25% did so rarely. The big number that was somewhat surprising is over 30% never did.
Since most likely the largest part of a company’s employees is using social media daily personally, you have to wonder why more businesses aren’t using it for engaging their employees. One issue that many companies have is the desire to control their corporate communications. It has been found that only a quarter of the employees surveyed said they have full access and were encouraged to participate in such communications.
Communications All In One Place
Because the internet has brought us so much that can be helpful and useful, it can also scatter us about with no organization if we allow it to. Many employees may decline the ability to have access to company communications, regardless their position in the company. It can become a headache keeping up with all the various inboxes that each platform offers.
Fortunately, for every concern, issue, or problem that the various social media platforms have brought us, there are answers and solutions too. Such as Outbox Pro, a software that reduces the amount of time needed to keep up with all the different inboxes to each Social Media outlet as well as the various email accounts that one person may have today in the workplace.
Photo Credits: Pixabay
Audrey is a Freelance Writer, living in Texas with her husband. She has written for a variety of industries including the Internet/Social Media space and always finds the challenge of new industry or topic exciting. You can follow her on https://www.linkedin.com/in/thewritechick. And learn more about Unified Inbox’s social media publishing tool Outbox Pro on https://app.outbox.pro!