Do social media and work really mix?
With our increasing reliance on technology, it’s no surprise that the lines between our personal and professional lives often become blurred. And although there’s no right or wrong way to add your colleagues to your networks, it’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons before you hit the button.
So, to ‘friend’ or not to ‘friend’? And should you follow your colleagues on social media?
Why should I follow my colleagues on social media?
OK, so you’re thinking about following your colleague(s) on social media – but what’s in it for you?
Aside from the ability to build a better friendship outside of work, connecting with your co-workers could also give you the opportunity to communicate more effectively; especially if you work in a close-knit team that chats as a group regularly.
Additionally, it could help demonstrate a vested interest in your work, whilst allowing others to get involved too – whether it’s through sharing industry-specific information, or checking in at events or conferences.
Why shouldn’t I follow my colleagues on social media?
Following your colleagues on social media isn’t always a good idea, particularly if you’d rather keep your personal and professional life separate.
However, it often depends on the circumstances (i.e. what you post, who you add, and the type of platform).
For example, if you’re likely to post about intimate details of your personal life, or about topics that could be taken in the wrong way (e.g. politics, religion, sex, or any other subject that could incur strong opinions), it might be best to steer clear of the ‘follow’ button. Especially when it comes to senior members of staff.
A lack of selectivity with who you add could also mean opening yourself up to office gossip and an invasion of privacy, which could ultimately affect your reputation and career prospects.
As a general rule of thumb, if you often post or tweet about things you wouldn’t be comfortable talking about in the office, always aim to keep your friend list more exclusive.
What do other people think?
We asked the public (AKA Twitter) whether you should follow your colleagues on social media. Here’s what we found:
But what exactly is it that makes 73% of you choose to avoid your co-workers online?
Whether it’s the danger of missing out on a promotion, or a desire to keep a relationship strictly work-based – the opinions were somewhat divided.
What do you think? Take the poll above to let us know.
Top tips for following your colleagues on social media
Whilst there are undoubtedly some concerns about following your colleagues on social media, there could also be a wide range of potential benefits.
So, if you do decide to extend your online network, here are a few of our top tips:
- Choose your ‘friends’ wisely. Your decision will usually depend on how well you actually know the person you’re adding. For example, adding someone you work closely with, know well, and are friends with in real life is usually fine, whilst an acquaintance, someone you don’t like, or a superior member of staff may be off limits.
- Think about the network. When it comes to connecting with colleagues online, some social networks might be more suitable than others. Sites like LinkedIn are used in a professional sense, so you shouldn’t have any problems adding your colleagues on here. However, if you were to connect with someone on a network that featured more personal information (e.g. Instagram, Facebook), it might not be as appropriate.
- Check what you post. Before you add a colleague, ask yourself if you’re happy with them viewing the contents of your profile. Are you likely to post about personal beliefs that could spark an unfriendly debate? Are any of your photos potentially risqué? Or are you simply private about your personal life? If the answers to these questions are ‘yes’, adding your colleagues could be a bad idea. Otherwise, you might need to consider adjusting your privacy settings.
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