The question of social media, and if it should have a role to play in the workplace, is one over which debate has raged ever since the first social media platforms became popular. Many workplaces have banned the use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter during working hours, while others have accepted—and in some cases even embraced—them as a part of daily working life in the modern world.
So, what are the pros and cons of using social media sites in the workplace?
The Advantages of Using Social Media in the Workplace
There are numerous benefits that social media can provide to a workplace and business. Here are just a few of them.
Endless Digital Marketing Opportunities
Marketing has been revolutionized by the advent of the internet, and social media platforms are just another example of this. Before Facebook (and to this day), email was used frequently for marketing purposes. These days, social media sites have only increased the ability of businesses to market their products/services. Platforms such as Facebook even enable the creation of business pages from which to launch custom, targeted marketing campaigns.
Increased Communication Between Employees
There are many possible obstacles to effective communication among staff members. Especially now that working from home has become increasingly popular and widespread, the need for easy communication regardless of physical proximity is greater than ever. Social media sites can be used by employees to get in touch with each other when other communication channels are inaccessible.
A Chance to Blow Off Steam
Checking social media sites is a common way for employees to relax on their lunch breaks. If employees are able to blow off steam and chat to their friends and family at these times, they are likely to report greater job satisfaction.
The Disadvantages of Using Social Media in the Workplace
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks of using social media in the workplace, such as the following.
Employees should always be trained to use the internet safely and to stick to cybersecurity procedures, whether they use social media sites or not. However, unfortunately, social media sites are often not the most secure platforms when it comes to data harvesting. It is highly recommended to make sure that if employees use social media, they do not use these channels to share work-related or potentially sensitive data.
Distraction from Work-Related Tasks
One of the most common complaints from managers when it comes to social media is the distraction that it can cause employees. When Facebook or Twitter are open in browser tabs, employees can often end up getting distracted from their working processes.
Personal Stresses Affecting the Working Day
While social media use can keep employees happy, it can also cause them stress at times. Being able to see potentially stressful personal news at any time during the working day can result in a breakdown in boundaries between work and personal life. One way to minimize the chances of personal life affecting the working day is to develop an effective HR department to help employees deal with any issues.
How Can You Use Social Media to Your Advantage and Avoid the Pitfalls?
Clearly, social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to business. There are ways to maximize the benefits while avoiding the pitfalls—developing a robust cybersecurity policy with effective staff training programs, and allocating times for using social media (e.g., lunch breaks) and times away from it, can both make sure that social media helps your company rather than hinder it.