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So­cial me­dia can help your ca­reer and your busi­ness stay on track, Cara Jenkin writes

The Advertiser - Careers - - Front Page -

WORK­ERS are be­ing smarter, more re­spon­si­ble and tak­ing ad­van­tage of so­cial me­dia tech­nolo­gies to fur­ther their ca­reer and are more pro­duc­tive for it.

But many em­ploy­ers are fall­ing fur­ther be­hind the times, miss­ing out on op­por­tu­ni­ties and stunt­ing the growth of their work­ers and their or­gan­i­sa­tion, by re­fus­ing or re­strict­ing use of so­cial me­dia.

One in five peo­ple across the world now are con­nected through so­cial me­dia, whether it be Face­book, Twit­ter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, blogs or other sites.

Rather than it be­ing a time waster, so­cial me­dia in­creas­ingly is found to boost the pro­duc­tiv­ity, abil­ity and rep­u­ta­tion of staff.

Al­most three-quar­ters (72 per cent) of work­ers would not dis­cuss a work-re­lated mat­ter on so­cial me­dia, an in­crease from 50 per cent in 2010, Clear­swift’s annual Work­life Web 2011 re­port re­veals.

It also finds 20 per cent of work­ers be­lieve so­cial me­dia makes them bet­ter at their job.

Yet its re­search finds one in three em­ploy­ers now block so­cial me­dia use, up from 20 per cent in 2010.

Re­search at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne also finds work­ers who surf the in­ter­net for fun dur­ing work­ing hours are 9 per cent more pro­duc­tive than those who do not.

So­cial me­dia con­sul­tant Michelle Prak says so­cial me­dia web­sites are the most pop­u­lar web­sites in Aus­tralia.

The trend for peo­ple to spend chunks of their day on so­cial me­dia, rather than just ‘‘ pop into very quickly and oc­ca­sion­ally’’ as they do with other web­sites, makes it a great plat­form for the savvy worker to use to fur­ther their ca­reer, she says. ‘‘ Peo­ple are catch­ing on to the fact that it can have a ben­e­fit to a ca­reer,’’ Prak says.

As direc­tor of her own so­cial me­dia consultancy, Prakky, she finds many em­ploy­ers have been wary of the tech­nol­ogy.

It is per­haps be­cause of neg­a­tive im­pres­sions gen­er­ated when so­cial me­dia ini­tially took off and staff acted ir­re­spon­si­bly, some­times mak­ing openly deroga­tory com­ments about their em­ployer or wast­ing time on­line.

Work­ers have be­come more aware of the pit­falls.

As well, 55 per cent of em­ploy­ers now have so­cial me­dia poli­cies.

Prak en­cour­ages em­ploy­ers to un­block so­cial me­dia sites so staff and cus­tomers can in­ter­act with each other and the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

She says net­work­ing long has been a key tool for work­ers and em­ploy­ers to grow pro­fes­sion­ally by at­tend­ing events and show­ing their face and busi­ness cards to con­tacts.

Now, through so­cial me­dia, it can be done any­where there’s a lap­top and at any time of the day.

On Twit­ter, the big­gest grow­ing so­cial me­dia tool, in­ter­ac­tion be­tween fol­low­ers and tweet­ers in­creas­ingly is lead­ing to work re­la­tion­ships.

‘‘ So­cial me­dia is where you find your next cus­tomer . . . or your next job be­cause you’ve been talk­ing to some­one for so long,’’ Prak says.

‘‘ They trust you and warm to you, rather than be­ing sent a CV or cold call­ing. Peo­ple tend to think of you and re­mem­ber your name.’’

So­cial me­dia also is an im­por­tant tool for per­sonal brand­ing. Work­ers can con­trol what pho­tos ap­pear in on­line, steer­ing em­ploy­ers to pic­tures of them vol­un­teer­ing, for ex­am­ple, to paint them­selves in a pos­i­tive light.

Some em­ploy­ers are choos­ing to em­brace the pos­si­bil­i­ties of so­cial me­dia.

The So­cial PR Consultancy direc­tor Sarah Thomas says small com­pa­nies are plug­ging into so­cial me­dia at a faster rate than big busi­ness.

‘‘ It’s slow for big­ger or­gan­i­sa­tions to make the shift to un­der­stand­ing how the more so­cial per­sonal net­works like Face­book and Twit­ter can ben­e­fit busi­ness,’’ Thomas says.

‘‘ It’s tak­ing a for­ward think­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion to un­der­stand how they can use and em­brace so­cial me­dia in their or­gan­i­sa­tion.’’

She says it usu­ally takes a so­cial me­dia ‘‘ cham­pion’’ high up on the cor­po­rate lad­der for so­cial me­dia to be em­braced.

Many se­nior staff don’t un­der­stand the ben­e­fits of so­cial me­dia plat­forms, de­spite many more ju­nior staff be­ing in the know.

‘‘ There’s so many peo­ple on so­cial me­dia th­ese days. (Aus­tralians) are the high­est users of so­cial me­dia in the world,’’ Thomas says.

‘‘ They need to un­der­stand their cus­tomers. One in two of their cus­tomers, most likely, are us­ing so­cial me­dia.

‘‘ It makes sense to be where th­ese cus­tomers are spend­ing so much time.

‘‘ Peo­ple us­ing so­cial me­dia are not there to com­mu­ni­cate. They are willing to like a busi­ness page most of the time so they can ac­cess ex­clu­sives and spe­cials, in­sights to when their next sale is go­ing to be.’’

Al­most half, or 43 per cent, of those on­line are a fan or fol­low a brand. ‘‘ There’s been a shift from us­ing the plat­form as a job hunt­ing tool,’’ Thomas says.

‘‘ It can be used as a tool from a busi­ness point of view.

‘‘ They keep an eye on what’s hap­pen­ing in the in­dus­try and have in­sight into what your com­peti­tors are up to.’’

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