Social Networking and Social Media: What does it mean for business?

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social networking; collaboration, communication, fun, friendship and business or addiction, scams, harrasment, waste of time, and identity theft

– Facebook – YouTube – Twitter – Linked In – Google+ – Flikr – Digg –

Social networking and social media poses both threats to business and opportunities for improvement. Just how much social networking and social media affects your company and whether it has an overall positive or negative impact appears to be entirely in our hands, and how we deal with the possible opportunities and impacts presented?

Negative Impacts

Development of social media and social networking has put more games, gossip and friends at the click of an employee’s mouse button, further increasing company fears of employees wasting time, procrastinating during paid hours. Either turning a blind-eye to the skiving, and letting other employees pick up the slack, or overly restricting the use of social media and social networking can lead to resentment from employees and lowered morale. Judging just what is the appropriate actions to take can sometimes be difficult.

Procrastination is not the only issue to deal with, social media and social networking opens a lot of new challenges for management. Employees may need reminding that if they are watching social media to break up their work day, they still require breaks away from their computers for health and safety reasons. Some employees may also find it difficult understanding what behaviour is acceptable on social media and social networking, and need prompting to avoid acts of discrimination and bullying. Finally, as many viruses and malware are spread through social media and social networking, greater security may also need to be considered to protect against them and their harmful effects.

Positive Opportunities

Social networking tools provide free and quick communication avenues for exchanging messages with employees worldwide, providing a backdrop for simpler, more flexible collaboration and co-operation. Email, tweeting, instant messaging and blogging or podcasts and many other options are now available for ensuring you can keep your employees and customers up to date and in the loop wherever they are. Similarly social networking can be used to keep your company up to date with industry information, conferences and the latest innovations through linking with other professionals in your field.

With 80% of UK houses receiving internet and 2/3 of all adults in the UK using Facebook – just one of the many social networking platforms (OFCOM) social media and social networking is increasingly being used as businesses’ ‘marketing face’, to directly communicate with a large portion of potential employees and customers. This method largely cuts out the middle men (advertising and recruitment agencies) reducing time and money spent on marketing strategies.

Encouraging social networking connections to your company enables current, past, and future employees and customers to share experiences and feel a more personal (and therefore stronger) link with the company brand, this setup also serves as a strong communication line from the company to share useful branding messages with the public such as notification of company awards, special recognition received or any other positive messages.

Read in more depth about this on our social networking and social media factsheet

Have your say on what you think social media and social networking means to business… Do you think it is something that needs protecting against, something to embrace, or a bit of both?