Social Media In The Business World
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Media|
|✅ Wordcount: 3347 words||✅ Published: 5th May 2017|
It is hard to believe that there once was a time when horses were the latest thing in media technology. Horses were a means of communication over large amounts of land, which as a technological innovation changed the course of history (AMTEC). Media and technology has come an incredibly long way since that time. The rate in which technology is advancing makes it hard to keep up.
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Today’s society revolves around the latest technology and what is current in the mediam everyone wants the latest and the greatest. Technology today gives people endless possibilities at the touch of their fingers at any time of day. A study done by The Nielsen Company projects that by the end of 2011 Smartphones will overtake feature phones in the United States. They also believe that one in two Americans will own a smartphone by Christmas of 2011. Smartphones, which are mobile phones that offer more computing ability and connectivity than feature phones, make it possible to communicate with and connected to anywhere in the world at any time. Smartphones are just one example of the technological “revolution” we are experiencing today.
Social media is a part of the obsession people have with media and technology today. As stated above, technology makes it extremely easy to communicate with people and social media makes it even easier. It is no longer required for someone to be at a computer in order to long onto their favorite social media sites. Smartphones have teamed up with these sites to create applications that allow you to access your social media profile right from your mobile phone. This makes it possible to be literally connected and able to communicate with people twenty-four hours a day.
The popularity of social media sites is unbelievable. “Is social media a fad? Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?” asks Erik Qualman, founder of Socialnomics, which works to provide social and mobile statistics. One of the most popular social media sites, facebook, has attracted more than 500 million active users since it was created in February of 2004. Facebook added 100 million users in less than nine months (Qualman). In contrast, it took the television thirteen years and the internet four years to reach 100 million users. Facebook is not only used by people in the United States. About 70% of its users are outside of the United States and it is available in over 70 different translations, as stated on facebook.com. Also, people spend over 700 billion minutes per month of facebook. A survey done in a College Writing II class at Marist College showed that 100% of the students in the class have a profile on a social media site. ???
The business world is certainly not being left behind by the social media revolution. Contrary to popular belief social media is not solely used for social purposes. As the popularity of these social media sites continue to grow at a rapid rate, businesses are starting to jump on the bandwagon. Businesses can certainly benefit and also be harmed in a number of ways by social media sites. As a result, Social Media is becoming a big factor in employment, affecting both job seekers and employers.
People are mistaken when they believe that socializing is the only purpose of social media sites. Besides facebook, twitter and youtube, which are mainly used for social purposes, there are also sites that are used for professional business purposes. These sites are benefitial and present opportunities to both job seekers and businesses looking to hire new employees.
One of the more popular professional social media sites is known as LinkedIn. The site defines itself as, “A networking tool to find connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners.” With nearly 25 million users LinkedIn serves almost any industry and professions explains Jake Swearingen a reporter for BNET. On LinkedIn users simply make a profile including all their professional information, and start searching and networking.
In his article for the CBS Interactive Business Network, Swearingen states that it is easy to create a profile but it takes work to make it as useful as possible. In the article he outlines steps to making a LinkedIn profile that will benefit the user the most. He says before a user connects with other users they must first create a profile with their detailed professional history. Simply copying and pasting their resume on the site will not cut it. A successful LinkedIn profile should reflect professional interests, passions and ambitions (Swearingen). The site is helpful in making sure that the user fills in all areas of their profile but, Swearingen believes there are two specific areas that are crucial in making a profile as effective as possible. The first is the section located right under the users name on their profile. This section is a short headline which is usually four or five words. This will be the first thing people see on a LinkedIn profile besides the user’s name. In other words, this will be the first impression made on all viewers. This section should be a simple explanatory headline that contains keywords that will help users find eachother, for example, “Senior Project Manager at MacDonnell-Douglas” or, “High-Performing Aeronautical Engineering Projects.” The second section contain past job experiences and ambitions for the future. Swearingen informs that when listing past job experiences users should make sure to use verbs as much as possible. It shows that passion about what the user learned from each job. Also, “non-jobs” can also be listed here. These include positions such as leading a group project. Mrinal Desai, a former LinkedIn “evangelist” and current vice president at CrossLoop, Inc recommends including what you want to do in the future in this section.
After creating the best profile possible on LinkedIn, the user can get and receive recommendations. People who are happy with someone’s work can write a brief description of their experiences on that person’s profile. These recommendations can be seen by anyone who views that specific profile. Recommendations serve a similar purpose as references someone would use when filling out a job application. Having recommendations from past and present colleagues and, or bosses shows that this particular person has good working habits, trustworthy and reliable. All of which are qualities companies look for in employees.
As well as being helpful to people looking for jobs, LinkedIn is also extremely beneficial to companies looking to hire new employees. 40% of Fortune 100 companies are using LinkedIn recruiting solutions as of August 2009 (Srinvasen). Businesses can post open positions right on LinkedIn and users can search through the jobs posted for the ones that apply. Then companies can use the LinkedIn Recruiter which searches the entire site for the best possible candidates based on what the company is specifically looking for. The company can then contact the candidates directly through LinkedIn mail. This process is quick, easy and saves companies money.
Social media used for pre-employment purposes poses many benefits for people who utilize its tools; however it also can be harmful. The popularity of social media sites makes it extremely easy to acquire information about almost anyone. For example, there are 500 million people on facebook anyone could “get to know” by poking around their profiles. As a result of this popularity, businesses are beginning to use social media as a part of the hiring process. The purpose of a job interview is to learn something about the candidate’s personality but that person tries to make the best possible impression on the interviewer. This impression may not depict the person’s true personality. Employers want to make sure they are making the best choice before hiring someone and content on social media sites can tell a lot about someone’s true personality. CEO Max Drucker believes, “I personally think we’re moving away from the one-page resume. I think we’re moving toward where your online history is your resume.” Do you have content on your profile you would not want a possible employer to see?
45% of companies use social media sites to research potential job candidates according to a survey of more than 2,000 HR professionals which was commissioned by CareerBuilder.com. That is nearly half of all companies. In addition, another 11% are planning to start similar practices in the near future. Out of the companies who admitted to using social media as a hiring tool 35% said they had actually rejected a candidate based on content they found during their research. But what exactly do companies find to cause such decisions?
Having provocative pictures or information was the main reason employers opted out of hiring someone. Sharing content that involved alcohol and drugs was not far behind. Also, companies dismissed candidates for bad-mouthing previous employers, co-workers, or clients on social media sites. Even the use emoticons or smiley faces that have become very common when communicating technologically are seen as a negative to companies.
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This does not mean job seekers can no longer reminisce with their friends about the party they went to last weekend on social media sites. Facebook, as well as other social media sites, have made it possible to make your profile private. There are many different settings that can be changed in order to make sure only desired people can see a full facebook profile. The settings can either be set to “everyone”, which means everyone can see everything on that specific profile, “friends of friends”, “friends only”, or “custom”. Custom makes it possible to block certain friends, but not all friends. Each of these settings can be applied to each aspect of a facebook profile separately. For example, say someone wants everyone on facebook to be able to see their profile pictures, but only wants their friends to be able to see their posts. The “everyone” setting can be applied specifically to profile pictures, while the “friend’s only” setting can be applied to all posts. Also, say someone is friends with their Aunt Joan on facebook, but does not want her to see pictures of what they do on the weekends. Aunt Joan can specifically be blocked from all pictures, still be able to see other sections of the profile and still remain friends with her family member. Users can also make themselves unsearchable, which means if someone types their name in the search bar, at the top of the facebook homepage, their profile will not come up. This assures extra safety from employers looking to do some online research.
Researching job candidates online sounds like a convienient way for employers to find out about their personality, but there’s a catch. Companies need to be aware of legal issues when doing online research. Michelle Sherman described which information about job candidates is off limits in her article for the Social Media Law Update Blog. She described that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion and gender when making employment related decisions such as, hiring, discipline and termination. The Age Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against people who are 40 years or older, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against those who are “qualified disabled”. Many states add other factors to the list of information that is off limit. For example, the state of California adds sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, cancer, political affiliation, genetic characteristics, and gender identity to the list.
Companies can easily gain information about the factors stated above by investigating social media sites. Michelle Sherman said, “The challenge for employers who are researching job applicants, or monitoring the social media activity of their employees, is to not let this protected status information bleed into their employment decisions.” On the other hand, Renee M. Jackson of the National Law Journal believes, “Employers should consider whether the benefits of using social media to research applicants outweigh the risks.” She also states certain guidelines employers should consider if they decide to screen social media sites. One guideline describes that companies should have a neutral party screen social media sites and filter out any information that is considered off limits under federal law. This neutral party can then pass on acceptable information to the individuals making the hiring decisions. Whoever is doing the online research should never “friend” a candidate in order to gain access to information. Finally, employers must be able to state a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for the decisions they make with documentation to support their claim. CEO of Social Intelligence Corp. Max Drucker says, “Look, the employer is damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. If they do screening themselves, it’s a legal landmine. If they don’t, they open themselves up to negligent hiring.”
The presence of social media in the business world does not disappear after the hiring process is complete. People believe that employees who use social media sites while at work can actually benefit the business. It is said to result in external business generation. Considering the popularity of social media today it is the fastest way to advertise to the public. In 2009, Sodexo, a food company, got a lot of “buzz” because they had their employees tweet under the company name (Welstead). To put this into perspective, if 100 employees get involved, each employee has an average of 100 friends on their social media profile, and they post one company-related status per week that status will reach 10,000 or more people per week. In a matter of minutes a company can advertise to tens of thousands of people they may not be able to reach otherwise.
Companies don’t always have to rely on their employees to advertise on social media sites. Facebook has made it possible for businesses to create business accounts. Business accounts are different than personal accounts and are designed mainly to as a place for companies to advertise. Once a business creates a business account on facebook it can edit the businesses profile and add photos, videos and events. For example, Honda has its very own facebook page. The page contains information about the company, pictures and videos of the different types of cars, links to pages dedicated to one specific type of car, and promotions of their latest products and campaigns. In addition, businesses can also create ads that will show up on the side of the facebook homepage when the user logs on. Each company can choose their audience by location, age and interests when displaying their ad on facebook.
Although, using social media for advertising creates a lot on benefits, it also may harm companies. It is obvious that if employees spend their entire day on social media sites production may decrease, but that is a small speed bump compared to the damage that could be done. The biggest risk is the unauthorized disclosure of confidential company information (Jackson). Leaking confidential company information can cause the company embarrassment, public relations issues and damage to the employers brand or reputation. As a result it is suggested that each company have a social media policy that all employees must follow. It is unrealistic to ban social media as a whole considering the amount of people who own smart phones. In other words, if social media sites are blocked on the company computers, employees can still log on using their mobile phones. Renee Jackson outlined some possible guidelines in her article for the National Law Journal. She described that companies should make it clear that the misuse of social media can be grounds for discipline and even termination. After that is made clear, it should be prohibited for employees to disclose confidential company information, trade secrets or proprietary information. Employees should keep company logos off their personal profiles and bring work-related complaints to human resources before writing about it on the internet. Also, employees should be prohibited from using their company e-mail address to register for social media sites. These are just a few suggested policies companies should consider there are many more additions to this that can insure further protection to the company.
Social media has been and can be a source of friendships, which can carry over to the work place. Renee Jackson believes, “Employee use of social media can result in an internal creation of a collegial atmosphere through less formal interaction and shared experiences between co-workers.” In other words, social media allows co-workers to interact in a less formal manner. They can communicate online in addition to having face-to-face conversations while at work. This strengthens the relationships between co-workers creating a pleasant and strong work environment. The closer employees are the better they work together in a team atmosphere.
In contrast to the quote stated above, Renee Jackson also states, “On the other hand, employee use of social media can create awkward and potentially harassing situations when such use turns inappropriate.” An example of this is if a supervisor wants to be a subordinate’s friend on a social media site. If the subordinate accepts the request the supervisor now has access to all the information on their profile. On the other hand, if the subordinate decides not to accept it may create an awkward situation in the work place because the supervisor may be offended. Misuse of such sites can cause sexual harassment or create a hostile work environment in more extreme cases (Jackson).
Social media is not just a fad. Since facebook first launched in 2004 it has gained over 500 million users. The rate in which it gained popularity was faster than that of any other technological innovation. Social media is beginning to permeate the business world. It can be extremely beneficial to business, but also very harmful. If social media is going to continue to be used in the business world, it needs to be used correctly. For job seekers, site used strictly for socializing should be protected from professionals looking to gain insight into personalities. Professional social media sites make job hunting and networking quick and easy, but in order for them to be successful they need to be developed fully. For companies, social media sites are a convenient want to research possible employees, but they need to make sure they stay clear of all legal issues. Facebook has made it easy for companies to advertise on the site, and they can use their employees to reach more possible customers. However, companies should have a social media policy that all employees must follow in order to make sure all problems are avoided.
The concept of professional social media can be extremely beneficial to Generation Y when they being the career search, since they are the majority of the users on social media sites. If they learn how to use social media properly it will put them in a better place for the rest of their lives. They can use social media as a tool to get them a good job. Once they are hired they can use it to make business better. The key to successful and safe social media use is know how to use it safely and to the best of its ability.
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