In our modern world, nearly every company uses social media to promote themselves to potential employees, investors, and clients. It is important for your company’s brand identity to have a positive presence on all platforms. This also applies to the individuals within the company, including you; the content that is shared on personal accounts represents not only the employee, but the company as well. The way we use social media in a work environment can also affect a team of employees by encouraging the development of deeper communication levels, the sharing of knowledge, and establishing trust. With this new world of social media quickly growing because of COVID-19, students preparing to enter the workforce need to learn how their social media habits can help, or hinder, their future work environment.
According to a study conducted in 2015, “researchers have argued that by developing preliminary trust, employees can establish connections with one another that can facilitate knowledge sharing over time”. In this study, Ellison suggested that throughout a period of time, the more trust an individual gains with their coworkers, the more information they will willingly share with each other. Trust plays a key role in the work environment, especially in a team role. A lack of trust in a team can lead to miscommunication, stale workplace relationships, and goals not being met. This can then negatively affect the company overall. To prevent this, start establishing those workplace relationships early on. This can be done face-to-face or through social media, however, you might find out more the team member by looking at what content they have shared on their page; do you both like the same bands, or hate the same sports team? Whatever it is, find something to connect with them about, and then connect! It’s a simple start, but that could be the first step towards creating a base level of trust between you and a coworker. After that, you can maintain that relationship with references towards things you both have in common, sending memes that you think they would enjoy, or even with just checking on how they are doing. These efforts will be worth it when your team is willingly sharing important information with each other and your company is thriving.
Why it’s Okay to Trust Your Gut
You were able to use social media as a tool to grow and maintain your workplace relationships, nicely done! You now have fair amount of trust between you and your team. However, while you should always feel trust within your work environment, you should also keep in mind that these relationships are still based in a professional setting; the information you share with your team, your boss, or even on your public profile still needs to represent the right image. Employees have raised concerns about management looking at their social media posts, the occasional “jokes” that go too far, and the inappropriate social media sharing. When you share content within your work environment or on your private social media pages that could be deemed inappropriate or hurtful, the Ellison says that “management can discourage the knowledge that you have shared”. Now you can still be sociable in your work environment; you just have to make sure that the content you are sharing is suitable for the setting and for the image you want to represent. According to Ellison, the key is to “..keep your work connections on a trust level to just share appropriate knowledge within your work environment”, and not sharing content that exceeds this relationship level. This means thinking about how the content could affect you and the company BEFORE sending a petty message into the water-cooler groupchat or posting an inappropriate joke on your Twitter. If you are even slightly unsure of the content you were prepared to share, then should err on the side of caution. Trust your gut and don’t post anything unless you are 100% confident.
Lastly, always keep in mind that you are constantly promoting your personal brand even after you received your job. As graduation is quickly approaching, make sure the information you are sharing about yourself and your life is beneficial to the image you want others to see. Trust is created by being social, but remember, there’s different definitions of social based off of the setting; the way you represent yourself at work is very different than how you are with friends and family. As long as you keep in mind which setting you are in and the information you are sharing in each, you should have no problem being the representing your company and individual brand, whether in person or on social media.
Neeley, T. B., & Leonardi, P. M. (2017). Enacting Knowledge Strategy Through Social Media: Passable Trust and the Paradox of Non-Work Interactions. Strategic Management Journal 39(3). Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321379249_Enacting_Knowledge_Strategy_Through_Social_Media_Passable_Trust_and_The_Paradox_of_Non-Work_Interactions
Written by Grayson Burnett. You can learn more about Grayson and our other blogwriters by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!