Social media – what a beautiful concept. It helps you connect with people around the world and express your views and feelings. For all of its potentially positive impacts, have you ever thought about how it is affecting how you behave at work? By now, we have all heard of the cautionary tale of teenage bullying on social media, internet addiction, and social network-induced obesity. We all know how people and our environment influence our behavior. But how significant of a role is your time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat playing in how you interact with your colleagues? Social media shapes our brand.
But sometimes, social media can have surprising impacts. I have always thought of myself as an open book. I didn't feel like I had anything to hide but with social media, it takes it to another level. I had a vendor contact me one time, and I asked him about his product, which he answered. Then proceeded to tell me how his sister-in-law just visited Bloomington, Indiana (where I earned my Masters Degree) and how he loves Tennessee Williams's "A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (a play I directed in undergrad). I think a reasonable person might have been creeped out, but truthfully I was impressed by his research. He made me feel like we already knew each other because he has done his homework.
It got me thinking more about how we can use social media to influence work relationships. These are my suggestions for how you can use social media to increase your brand at work:
- Relatable – The more authentic you are on your social media platforms; you will find that people can relate to you more. This can also fuel you to be the same at work.
- Relationships – When you share your life or tidbits of your life to the world, it helps you be brave in sharing more with your colleagues. This can help create conversations and set a friendly tone when talking about hard topics in business. I also see the opposite too, where people are colleagues and friends on social media and they think they are entitled to other's personal decisions because they "feel" like they are friends
- Thoughtful – people tend to be more thoughtful in what they respond to or share because it reflects their brand. It shifts to a conscious behavior at work
- Comparing – this is not a positive. I think people tend to compare themselves to others for what they see on social media. Don't let yourself fall down that rabbit hole
- Idea marketplace – social media lets you share your opinions for both good and bad. It helps people understand that all voices can be heard and it's ok to listen to them
- Fact check – I see this often. I remember being in university and my professor saying something, and I would immediately take their word as fact. I see more and more in meetings that people are googling to see if a person is correct
- Impatience – with the ability to get anything you want with a couple of clicks, I'm noticing that people expect that in real life. I am not sure this is a bad thing
- Experience – with the power of youtube and google, I don't think it's necessary to have expertise in everything. What you do need is the ability to learn.
The thing about social media is that it heightens your behavior and not necessarily changes your behavior. If you love meeting new people, your social media activity might be focused on precisely that. It's a medium to strengthen your skills that you already have. One thing you might notice is that without meaning to, you might be segregating yourself in social media like how you would in real life – by age, education, industry, etc. As there is power in diversity, you may want to take steps to avoid this behavior.
How do you see social media affect morality or ethics or just culture at work? How does it influence your life and the people that work with you?