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Using social media at work can boost careers

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27th Jul 2015
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Do you use social media for development or just for fun? Colin Mudd tells us how to make it constructive.

Social media in the workplace is a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, many could argue it has revolutionised recruitment, company image and overall daily life. On the other, it has yet to become accepted as a valuable workplace tool in terms of learning and development. In fact, our latest research found that British professionals are falling behind the US in recognising social media potential. Many are concerned they simply do not have time to post during the working day, not to mention keep up with valuable content they need, thanks to those whose lack of social savvy pollutes many of our streams with useless content. 

Only 39% of Brits recognise that social media will be important for their careers in five years’ time, compared with over half (54%) of Americans. With competition for talent rife and an ever impending skills shortage across most industries, it is more important than ever for organisations to move away from traditional and out-of-date training methods, and recognise the potential of social media in the workplace as a learning and development tool that can offer educational opportunities and brighter career prospects. 

Social media as an L&D tool

Social media is a beneficial learning and development tool that is not only cost efficient but also extremely flexible. For example, one of its many uses is the ability to provide L&D programmes over mobile platforms at any given time or place – a very useful tool in the modern mobile age. We use social platforms to analyse individual strengths and gaps in needs and knowledge and develop this data, helping us deliver a training programme that is uniquely tailored to each individual. With this level of knowledge, you can design several different formats from straight teaching, classroom education, or progressively, through incorporation into social media networks and platforms themselves. This co-ordinates access for individuals, SME’s and larger corporations to communicate with each other more effectively. 

It seems that the approach most successful in captivating the majority of workers is engagement via mobile or desktop platforms. By banning social media in the workplace, many businesses are curtailing an abundance of available resources that can - and in the future will - shape both the company and its employees. 

As well as boosting the reputation and progression of companies, social media can also be used as an extremely beneficial tool for career prospects. Employers see social as a snapshot of how you relate to the public, and thus notable sites such as LinkedIn and CareerSushi allowing professionals from all over the world to broadcast their experience and skillset, connecting with others for potential business ventures, headhunting and recruitment. Social media is now key to your personal brand. Knowing how to tailor your online profile allows you to convey your professional appeal and adapt the industry you want to fit. 

Social media as a networking tool 

The beauty of social media is how it connects people in both our personal and professional lives. Implementing a social media strategy in the workplace can allow for a good balance between work and play. Employee and company use of social platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn can be used positively, enabling networking and knowledge sharing with other people in the industry from all corners of the world, boosting brand image and widening the circle of influential contacts. 

Many companies that have harnessed social networking as a means of gaining an enhanced presence online have found a far wider audience than they would have otherwise. Using a tool such as Twitter allows a small business with little funding to reach a huge audience without very little effort or costly advertising. Using social media to join interesting industry-related groups or discussions can demonstrate expertise in a field and raise professional awareness, possibly even attracting new business and future revenue. 

Social media as a useful content generator 

One of the biggest issues facing social media in the workplace is employee guidance concerning sharable content. Workers are similarly conscious about their online appearance and whether they will be judged by their employers and colleagues. In a generation where short attention spans, tweets, newsfeeds and updates are battling ever more frantically for readers’ attention, it is more important than ever to be direct. 

Embracing social media 

Whether you know it or not, social media is now largely integrated into all corners of our lives. With access to a world of opportunities for both companies and professionals at the touch of a button, it is easier than ever to connect, share and hire. Attitudes towards the medium need to change, as banning these modern practices at work is simply not the answer. The opportunity to connect with people is easier and more powerful than ever, yet it is still not exploited to its full potential. Responsible social media use can educate and develop both individuals and organisations, greatly boosting reputation and outreach.

Colin Mudd is CEO of Scredible

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