It is only fitting that given the ambiguity of the subject of social media and my recent decision to start a blog I comment on its nature. My decision to utilize social media is simple: 1) I’ve always been tech savvy, especially in comparison to my female peers; 2) I have not been afraid of computer hardware and software related items and have viewed them as building blocks or LEGO pieces which fit together; 3) I wanted to get my name out in the world and create more possibilities to network with others; 4)I wanted a personal brand.
Social media has become an important part of our everyday lives; facebook, flikr, twitter, vimeo, linkedin and a variety of other social networks allow us insight into other peoples’ lives, thoughts and opinions. There are two main schools of thought:
a) Social media allows the corporate world to be more creative when building a brand
b) Social media tarnishes the employers’ image and makes it hard to control what employees may say about the organization
Not surprisingly both these views are contradictory to each other; one vows to build company brand; the other tarnishes it. The two extremes focus on either the benefits or the downfalls of utilizing social media. They also ignore the simple notion of the “grey aspects” that lie between them. Is allowing employees to use social media in the workplace without restrictions a recipe for lower productivity? Or is it a venue to build knowledge, information sharing and networking possibilities?In Human Resources; I have seen more and more utilization of social media to exchange ideas; brainstorming of standards and sharing information related to everyday and strategic ventures which help the companies move forward. Often, social media is looked at when recruiting. Can someone’s blog cost them a job? Is my online activity detrimental to the business and my professional credibility?
An employees’ restricted access at work to social media does not limit them from using any of their preferred networks at home. It does however, perhaps allow the people to focus on the work at hand rather than checking their facebook page and playing Farmville throughout the day. As with any other technological advancement, policies on use and times of use should be defined. On the other hand from an individual perspective it is important that the internet serves as a window into our lives and our reputations. I try to leverage my face-to-face networking with that of the digital world. The social media aspect helps me interact with friends; keep in touch with past colleagues and friends as the global world becomes smaller and further gain a greater knowledgebase. It does not eliminate the need for outings, phone calls and the occasional coffee or tea (although sometimes realistically schedules do).
Personally I keep in mind that:
1) what I write is a reflection of me
2) I control what goes on each and every page
3) I can utilize the social media network for good or bad
4) my social media life may influence my business life
These four rules are guiding factors for me on what I chose to display in any social media network. Hiding from the social media network in the 21st century or embracing it wholeheartedly is not as cut and dry as it seems. I try to find value in the social media world and capitalize on the advantages that it has for me, my company and my networking contacts. In short, social media, personal branding and Human Resources have collided!