Social media - the term used to describe internet-based communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction and collaboration - is fast becoming a mainstream business tool.
Organisations are using social media to inform, educate and influence the communities in which they operate, including the general public. Interest in social media is fuelled by a combination of greater internet access for everyone, the growth in use of smart mobile devices, and dynamic business models based upon behavioural advertising. The deal is that we get to use social media platforms for free in return for giving up our personal information which is then used to sell products and services back to us.
It is not just in our private lives that we use social media. Most of us are now allowed to browse the internet and use social media while at work. If you work in marketing, sales or client services it is almost certain that using social media platforms forms part of your contractual duties. With many employees now using their own devices, include iPads and other tablets during work hours, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to decide between those staff that are allowed and those that are not allowed to have access to it. And why should employers differentiate? The benefits of employees using social media may outweigh the disadvantages. So, we have to find a balance between focusing too much on the downside of social media against recognising its opportunities. This is achieved only by educating, supporting and positively involving staff in social media activities.