Ah, social media. The popularity of it all spawning from early days of the new millennium and growing into one of the largest forms of communication across the globe — social media keeps on keeping on. One of the biggest reasons social media has been so successful is that it has the ability to bring people together, no matter the distance, as long as there is a wifi network or internet capability to power your device. Originally, social media helped people keep up with friends and family, but down the line, it became more diverse in the way it could be used. Want to only share pictures and videos? Instagram is probably your best bet. Looking to grow connections and look for jobs? LinkedIn. Create short bits of information to share? Twitter. And so on and so forth. Knowing all of the different ways that social media has to connect individuals, one question that typically pops into everyone’s mind at one point or another while at a job is: should I add my coworkers to social media?
The short answer: it depends.
In my line of work, I manage multiple social media sites for several organizations and businesses, so for me, it just makes sense to connect with peers on some sort of social media site. This does not necessarily mean I add them to my personal social site, like Facebook, and let them partake in all of my hilarious memes and “what’s on my mind” moments. But rather, it means that I take account what my relationship is with them to see if they fit into a specific channel. For coworkers that I know I want to connect with on a professional level — sharing anecdotes and information that surround my career — I choose LinkedIn. For coworkers that I have a relationship and friendship with outside of work, I choose Facebook or Twitter. This is how I learn more about them, see their personalities shine through, communicate more, etc. To me, as a business developer, social media profiles give me a snapshot of an individual’s life and who they are. It is up to them to let me in as a friend or as a colleague once that invite hits the inbox.
Of course, there is another level to figuring out whether or not to add coworkers to social media: what is the person’s role at work?
For instance, if your CEO decides they want to follow you on Instagram, do you let them? Most of the time, this is a no. Unless you actively ensure your photos are appropriate and doesn’t show throwback photos of you guzzling beers in college (don’t worry we all have those), then you probably shouldn’t add them. If you decide to follow or add them on a professional site, that's fine.
Bottom line: use common sense.
What do you want people to see or know? I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to keep all throwback photos, personal thoughts, and shared memories to only those individuals that know me the best, and are truly friends or family members. Another thing to remember about social media in general when deciding on whether or not to add coworkers or not is that it is most likely that they have already seen part of parts of your social media sites. Part of the screening process for many jobs across the country is to look at the social media profiles of those who applied. So, if you didn’t already know, then it may be time to learn those privacy settings! All-in-all, social media is a great tool to connect with anyone, colleague or otherwise. But like any tool, you should be careful of how you use it.
Marissa Ackerman is a WFHM educating the masses on the importance of diversity and inclusion as a business developer for a diversity learning organization, a published writer supporting STEM education, and prides herself for being a life-long learner.