Social media is a powerful workplace tool. When used effectively, it has untold benefits for businesses and individuals. However, the power and reach of social media means that one wrong move can have disastrous consequences.


Here’s what could happen when you underestimate the dangers of social media:


You could seriously damage your company’s reputation

Even if your social media posts aren’t related to work, people will often automatically link your name to the company you’re employed by. Employers strive to uphold the good reputation of their business, so any negative attention caused by someone in the company will be frowned upon. Before posting anything on your personal pages, consider the possible effects on your employer.


You could mistakenly leak confidential information

Social media can connect you instantly with a variety of people from around the world. With each of these people having their own network of social media contacts, confidential information can spread like wildfire. You could slip up by posting a description of a big project your team is working on, or by sending a message to someone who may be linked to your company’s competitors. Remember that what you post on social media immediately becomes public information, which competitors can use to their advantage. Apart from this, there is a good chance that if you’re found to be the source of the leak, disciplinary proceedings will follow.


You could become an unproductive employee

Various studies have found that social media hampers productivity in the workplace. There is no doubt that social media has the potential to be highly distracting, preventing you from focusing on your job. If you can’t manage this distraction, you may find yourself missing deadlines or producing rushed and error-ridden work. Your social media activities may also be noticed by your superiors or the IT department, who could decide to take disciplinary action against you.


You open yourself up to victimisation or discrimination

Rumours, embarrassing stories and compromising photos spread quickly over social media, particularly in a closely connected environment such as the workplace. If your work colleagues are also social media contacts, you should be aware that they have access to what you post and can share it with other people you work with. Social media bullying, discrimination and victimisation are all very real risks. You should also never underestimate the emotional impacts that your own social media actions can have on others.


You could become a target for cyber criminals

Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with some able to use “social engineering” techniques to exploit social media users. Many people perceive their Facebook friends or Twitter followers as trustworthy, even if they have never met them in person. Social media hacking has therefore become one of the greatest threats to corporate cyber security, and is also a relatively easy avenue for the spread of malware such as viruses. You should therefore be very cautious about accepting social media requests from people you haven’t met.


Want to find out how you can stay safe on social media?

Consider studying the Online Short Course: Fundamentals of Social Media in the Workplace


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