Getting ‘Social’ at work

In the world of Social Media, there are two types of people 

• The Believers
• The Non-Believers

The Believers belong to a creed that has (or portrays) a better life online than offline. They’re like hounds sniffing around for cool stuff that can be put up on their walls, timelines, or blogs at the next best opportunity.

The Non – Believers belong to a subtler race. One that is led by reason and thinks whatever The Believers do is a waste of time, effort and resources.

If we go a level further and try to segregate, The Believers can be divided into two types – The Conformists and The Non-Conformists. The Conformists have a strict rule book when it comes to flaunting themselves online. The Non-Conformists defy all norms and treat Social Media like a race – the faster one is, the cooler he becomes.

Now that I have established a context with my little prelude to the article, let me as you a question – Do you remember the times when you were new at your workplace and wondered about what the overlap was between your work life and your personal life? The answers may be in found by examining a few of the typical behavior patterns seen usually:

The Believers:

The Conformists – They are perpetually stuck in a ‘to do or not to do’ dilemma. After brooding over this endlessly, they eventually hit the add/follow button. In the days that follow, they make it a point to keep a check on their activity.
The Non-Conformists – They indiscriminately add or follow anyone and everyone who comes across their way and smiles and continue LOLing and Wassup-ing relentlessly all across their profiles.

 

The Non-Believers: These guys are the happiest race of humans on earth for one simple reason – they’ve got atleast one less thing to worry about.

So what is it that you really need to do? Are there set rules/norms that you should follow? Let’s get on with them, but first, let’s identify the platforms:

• Facebook
• Twitter
• LinkedIn

Of all these, LinkedIn at all times is seen wearing a formal suit, unlike the other two. It uses ‘recommendations’ for a tie, ‘status updates’ and ‘groups’ for cuff links and other media sharing tools (such as SlideShare account, tweets, portfolios etc) as accessories. More so, LinkedIn is a common ground between Social Networking and Job Search – allowing for work-related connections.

Here are a few other reasons to believe in the existence of this medium:

Stalking – Got a big meeting in the afternoon? Don’t fret. Hunt for all people listed in the meeting request, get into their background – their past work places and their achievements. Next, make mental notes of these. When you meet them eventually, you’ll have enough pointers for small talk.
Unconverted calls – We’ve all had our fair share of interviews that have left us in self-doubt, simply because the interviewer did not bother to call back for reasons unknown. Adding them on LinkedIn is the best thing you can do for yourself at times like these. One, this little gesture would inform your ‘nemesis’ that you still hold interest in the profile. Two, if for the simple reason that he completely ignored you because he wanted to hunt for bigger fish in the sea, this would give you top of mind recall in case a similar requirement arises. Three, he would have easy access to your achievements and recommendations and this would make up for your flaws, if he noticed any. Four, at all times he notices intelligent LinkedIn activity from you, it might just make him feel guilty for not choosing you.
Prospective business – OK so you’ve met someone and the prospects of you doing business with him seem bright. How do you ensure that you’ve left no stone unturned? You simply add them on LinkedIn. It would tell your prospects how kicked you are about doing business with them and they in turn would overrule any slight negativity they may have in  their heads.
Opinion maker – For HR, the department that makes all others look frivolous and unnecessary, this is an important tool. If you’ve already done all that you could to make them overstep their KRA boundaries and you have got them hunting for you, all you need is a ‘meaty’ profile to ensure that the opinion they’ve formed about you is cast in iron.

So LinkedIn, all in all, is an interesting platform to voice your opinions related to your work, building a stable professional network and planning your career moves.

On the other two – Facebook and Twitter, you can loosen your buttons a little but with due respect. Everything works best in moderation. If you are infected with Social Diarrhea, you give away too much about yourself. If you maintain a stiff upper lip, then you’re probably letting others think you’re unapproachable.

Many times, companies get embarrassed by posts from employees’ personal and professional use of networking sites that create uncomfortable situations. Your Social profiles stand on a delicate balance that sometimes is just one angry rant or one accidental over-share away from disaster.

This applies for personal twitter accounts that are used for work related tweets as well. Let me illustrate this with an example. You all remember the ShashiTharoor-LalitModi ruckus on Twitter? A simple exchange of tweets led to the unearthing of a scam. The drama that followed was astonishing – their respective organizations reacted and they were forced to resign from their official duties – ShashiTharoor from the post of Minister of State, External Affairs and LalitModi from post of the Chairman of IPL.

Here’s another well-known, ill-tempered tweet: “I find it ironic that that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive.” This is a pretty bad case against a contract employee at a company based in Detroit. And worse, if that company happens to be Chrysler Motors. And it’s a major conspiracy of fate if that employee accidentally tweets it from the official @ChryslerMotors account, as happened last year. And yes, he was fired!

Bottom line – Don’t be stupid. Don’t tweet when you’re frustrated.

It’s routine for media companies to curtail online political speech. CNN and BBC for eg, do not allow employees to post online content that does not meet editorial standards. Employees also aren’t allowed to take public positions about the issues without permission.

Restrictions are alright. But as a true supporter of Social Media, I’d like to have my own version of a story well known – All work and no Social Media make Jack a dull boy. At the end of the day, if an average employee spends five minutes reading an answer to a question on Quora or StumblingUpon something interesting, he’s bound to be more relaxed and informed.

So make sure you do not over step your boundaries. To put your best digital foot forward, follow these commandments:

If you’ve got some more tips, do put them up as Comments. And if you know someone who could use all that I’ve been ranting about, please do share on your network :)

Image courtesy Khalid Albiah

 

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