Apply and encourage responsible practices when it comes to the use of social media.
It has become almost impossible in South Africa to not be in close proximity to a person that has a smartphone or a modern electronic device that connects to the Internet and allows for social media sharing. Times are definitely changing where previously the line between work and personal life was very clear but, these days, due to social media, the line appears to be compromised. Commenting on the widespread influence of social media in our ordinary lives and workplace, international marketer, Erin Bury, once said, “Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”
By definition, according to TechTarget, “social media is a collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging and social networking”. Social media in South Africa has blossomed in an exponential manner by giving a voice to the voiceless, connecting distant friends and family, forming new connections and relationships and, even better, creating new job titles which previously did not exist, such as Social Media Manager, Digital Marketer and SEO Specialist.
What many South Africans don’t seem to realise is that social media has affected the workplace mentality across all industries. Subsequently, it has disrupted the approach to work whether in recruitment, marketing or customer service, hence any small business in South Africa now has an equal chance to have a personal relationship with prospective clients online.
However, like any coin game you play, the toss might land in an unfavoured position which leaves employers with a challenge to develop and implement social media policies that only benefit the company brand rather than employees abusing work Internet access for personal use and searching for other job positions on social media. You would be amazed how often people at work keep checking their smartphones during meetings, presentations and interviews even if they are aware of not receiving any incoming notification on their phone. Checking our social media profiles has become a habit for many South Africans mainly within a few minutes of waking up in the morning, during work hours and before we go to sleep.
These are the four “Do nots” on Social Media in the workplace:
1 Don’t mention your job search if you’re still employed;
2 Don’t publicly announce your monthly salary;
3 Don’t badmouth your current or previous employer; and
4 Don’t mention new upcoming work projects or services without authorisation.
The important aspects to address are that social media can be used in a constructive manner and also can be destructive by forming addictive personalities which decrease work productivity levels due to lost attention, constantly comparing ourselves to others and forming hate speech against others. So, why are we addicted to social media?
According to Nir Eyal author of the Hooked Model, social media is linked to the design of our human brain by activating our reward system with anticipation when we post, share or like something with the intention of getting rapid feedback from others to like or comment, which eventually calms the system when that happens. The other reason we are addicted and hooked to social media is that the unknown is always fascinating – every time we log in, something new is always there which increases our engagement and attention. For example, when we feel unsure, we go to Google, when we feel lonely, we go to Facebook to check our friends’ posts and when we want to stay connected to the news, we go on Twitter.
The bottom line is that social media is a double edged sword that can elevate or destroy your career. The key is to use it in a positive manner that represents your company’s values and mission in helping its customers and partners in improving the industry you operate in.
This article originally appeared on The Republic Mail web site.
Andile Makaring is a leading expert in the Technology and Media industry. He was among the Top 20 finalists of One Day Leader 2017 under 25 by SABC Entrepreneurship Show.
This article appeared in the January 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.