The perils – and potential – of social media

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To me, this “social media” stuff – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for example – still remains an oddity of modern life, though I confess to using all of those mediums every day, largely for work.

The perils posed by social media, though, are readily apparent as not a day seems to go by without someone suffering severe blowback in their personal or work life as the result of something they’ve “posted” in the digital world – an effect that’s directly tied to the “unfiltered nature” of social media technology.

Still, social media is here to stay in the modern world and businesses – trucking firms included – should not only get used to it, but potentially benefit for it as well.

If you can spare 10 minutes, watch the short interview below with Barry Libert, CEO of Open Matters and author of the book Social Nation, conducted last year by the Wharton business school. He really puts social media into perspective for the business world, I think.

Lower down the “work chain,” though, a new survey by FindLaw.com reinforces the concern that “unflattering social media postings” may be not only costing some people their jobs, but damaging their careers as well.

The firm’s “demographically balanced” poll of 1,000 American adults found that 4% of them admit that something they posted on a social media platform, such as Facebook or YouTube, resulted in them either being fired from their job, not being offered a job, losing a promotion, or being officially reprimanded or disciplined.

And for those unfortunate workers, there seems little doubt as to the cause. More than half of those who suffered negative employment consequences said they were directly told by their supervisor that inappropriate social media postings were the reason, with 39% noting that they were told by someone other than their supervisor. Only 9% said that they had no direct evidence and were only guessing that social media played a role, the firm’s poll found.

[The short video below offers some further “what not to do” context when it comes to social media use.]

"Always assume your boss might end up seeing that Facebook posting or Instagram photo you're about to send," cautioned Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney-editor at FindLaw.com.

"Many people think that something they post on their own time on their personal social media site cannot impact their status with their employer, or they may assume that privacy settings will keep their employer from seeing it,” she added.

“But depending on the company you work for and the state where you live, your employer may have broad latitude for firing you for whatever reason,” Rahlfs stressed. “And in the long run, you may never know whether that job or promotion that you were never offered was because of something that your employer discovered on a social media site.”

Something to consider as social media continues to entwine itself in the daily life of America and the world at large. 

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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