You might not have to X-out of Facebook when your boss enters the room anymore. In fact, it turns out you might want to take the time to learn as much as you possibly can about every social media site out there, it could be a good move for many careers. Whether you want to go into sales or into battle, getting the scoop on social media can help you get there. Today, many different fields such as technology, sales, education, health and even the armed forces use social media as a tool to achieve company goals in the industry. This is one skill that won’t limit you to one field and will be in high demand for years to come.
U.S. Companies’ Social Status
A recent survey taken by the Institute for Corporate Productivity addressed social networking site use by U.S. businesses. Results showed that more than half (65 percent) of the businesses surveyed were connected to social networks for personal and professional purposes. LinkedIn, Yahoo 360 and MySpace were the most visited social networking sites by U.S. businesses for 2007. It’s now 2010, and while exact statistics may be hard to come by, we can guess that due to the rapidly changing nature of social media, this list looks a bit different. But, no matter what kind of social networking site a company is using, it turns out that many businesses share the same purposes for using them.
Top Reasons for Implementing Social Networking
• To share best practices with colleagues (55 percent)
• Keep internal staff and remote employees connected (52 percent)
• Seek answers to issues they are currently facing (49 percent)
• Connect with potential clients (47 percent)
• To look for other job ventures (35 percent)
So, in short, the majority of these businesses are using social networking as a way to raise the IQ of the organization and increase the expertise of their staff.
Forget Personal Confidence, Think Virtual Competence Instead!
Last year, studies were conducted at the Richard Ivey School of Business of the University of Ontario focusing on the effect of using Facebook and other social networking sites on employees. These studies examine “virtual competence” which refers to a worker’s confidence in their use of collaborative technology. Studies show that those with more experience on social networks reported higher job satisfaction and displayed better job performance than those who were less experienced. Many companies believe that virtual competence allows workers to communicate more effectively via e-mail, blogs, and other Web-based forums making them stronger employees overall.
Learn to Tweet. It’s Pretty Sweet.
Laura Mindek, president of Mindshift Solutions, a management-consulting firm headquartered in Flemington, New Jersey, explains how social networking sites can be adopted into a corporation’s business strategy. She finds that many companies are using Twitter for reinforcing and sustaining learning among workers. From using this site, management is able to remind workers of upcoming training events and key learning points. Twitter can also be used to share different points of views and practices among training participants or other workers in general and many companies are taking advantage of this, staying connected throughout the work day.
Fighting for Attention
The Marine Corps uses social media to recruit online. However, they face a lot of competition with other sites, such as YouTube and Facebook, that pre-occupy potential recruits in their target age range. Despite this, Sgt. Alexis Mulero, public affairs chief for the communicators in the 1st Marine Corps Recruiting District, feels that by focusing on social media, his team has increased positive exposure of the Marine Corps. across the Northeastern U.S.
No Friending Allowed
It’s obvious that thousands of U.S. companies are looking to hire workers for their social networking skills, but despite the fact that over half of U.S. businesses are implementing social networking, many have banned it all together. The government of Montenegro banned Facebook. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security even forbids users from viewing its own Facebook page at work. The U.S. military banned access to YouTube. Instead they implemented a special alternative called TroopTube, but even that was blocked later on.
The chief of emerging technology at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency (AFPAA) at the Pentagon, Capt. David Faggard, mentions the disruptive force of “counterblogging.” Counterblogging is when members of the armed forces encounter bloggers with a negative opinion of the military. Another concern is how insurgents or potential enemies can use the information that his men post or exchange. While a war-time scenario has obvious problems with social media, there are many businesses who also remain unconvinced that tweeting online is a good thing.
Top Reasons for Banning Social Networking among Businesses
• perceived loss in staff productivity
• data leakage from staff gossiping freely in an open environment
• malware and phishing scams by cyber crooks
• access potentially offered to the company servers by outdated attitudes toward open access
You may want a job that considers Tweeting work. Or, you may find Twitter, Facebook and the rest a distraction that stops you from getting more “real” work done. Whatever side of the fence you land, you someday may not have a choice—familiarity with social media may just be another resume requirement.