In the previous two series on this topic: "Social Media and Us Series", we examined what the phenomenon is and how it has impacted human lives and society. In this article, we continue to appraise the degree of impact social media has had on human societies - individual and organizational - and how that is translating to positives in both individual and business relationships.
Many businesses effectively use social media to promote their products and connect with customers. However, social media can also pose a risk to companies. Not only can social media use interfere with productivity, but information shared on social networks can do real damage both to co-worker relationships as well as your brand.
Most of your employees have social media accounts. Unfortunately, many have developed the habit of checking their accounts multiple times during the day, even when they are at work. Time spent on personal accounts is time that is not spent on work tasks. Even when an employee spends just a few seconds on social media, it can take several minutes to refocus on the task that she was working on before checking her phone. It is also time not spent interacting with colleagues and developing quality work relationships.
Many mental health professionals are deeply concerned about the impact that social media has on mental health. Some believe that the constant distraction of social media contributes to shortened attention spans. Also, many people who regularly use platforms like Facebook or Twitter report high levels of stress.
Employee mental health can have a direct impact on your business. When employees are happy, confident, and relaxed, they can be more productive and have better relationships with co-workers, clients, and customers. On the other hand, stress contributes to multiple physical and mental ailments that can affect their work.
Spreading False Information
The cry of "fake news" has become commonplace and consumer confidence in even traditional media outlets has been significantly eroded. Unfortunately, false, misleading, or confusing online content can harm your brand's reputation, upset even loyal customers, and dissuade people from even considering purchasing your products or services.
Unclear or unreliable health information:
Online rumors can get started about the safety of certain foods, products, ingredients, or treatments that have little basis in fact. Unfortunately, social media users may continue to spread this misinformation, which may cause readers to avoid purchasing, or even considering the products or services referenced in these posts.
Political Lines in the Sand
In 2018, owners of restaurants and other businesses found themselves in the crossfire of intense political loyalties when they appeared to take sides, either on the left or the right. Even if your company doesn't take a side politically, the mere appearance of favoring one party over another can cause political fallout with boycotts and fake reviews.
Online Bullying and Workplace Tensions
Many people think of cyberbullying as being a problem for young people. Unfortunately, adults may also bully each other online, and sometimes their targets are coworkers. Typical types of bullying include aggressive and unpleasant emails, private messages and public comments, putting unflattering or manipulated photos of the bullying target online. Employees who are victims of bullying often report experiencing extreme stress. which may eventually affect their performance.
Colleagues may also experience tensions if they follow each other on social platforms. While many workers are careful to avoid expressing opinions on controversial subjects at work, they may be less restrained online. If a colleague spots an opinion or meme that he finds upsetting, the disagreement may spill over into the workplace, potentially damaging morale and interfering with productivity.