Social Networking Destroyed My Life
Some months ago we published a humorous piece on “The Dangers of Social Networking in 2010“. This was generally well received, and has been linked to by several other authors exploring the problems of using Twitter, FaceBook and other Social networking tools as part of business or education. There are some real dangers and some real opportunities in the business and learning contexts.
Recently I have been reading more and more about teachers being concerned about being connected with their students and Human Resources (HR) professionals connecting with staff employed in the same organization. This lack of awareness is concerning. It seems that across the world 10s of millions of people are using a tool and they have no idea of the dangers just around the corner. used in the proper way, most social networking tools can add a lot of value to an individual, their learning and the organization for which they are attached (student or worker), however, go into this with rose tinted spectacles and many find themselves deep in problems that are difficult if not impossible to solve (without resorting to very expensive solutions).
I discovered this in a small way some years ago in LinkedIn. I was open to connecting with anyone that asked me to connect – all perfectly harmless I thought, until one of these individuals started to contact all my connections and started to spam marketing messages to them. It upset several of the people I knew well, and understandably so – they trusted me with their details. Today I only connect with people I know in the real world. I am glad that my learning was relatively uneventful – unlike some that find their students bullying them, casting viscous roomers for schools and workplaces to read.
Blocking the use of these tools is not an option – they are a valuable too, but learning how to use them effectively is vital. It should IMHO be core education for all 11 year olds, teachers and professionals alike. the future of marketing is as much about security and reputation management as is its selling and brand building.
The Power of Social Networking
In this piece I hope to highlight three factors:
- Dangers of Social Networking in Business & Education
- Opportunities of Social Networking in Business & Education
- Some Solutions to effectively use Social Networking in Business & Education
What is Social Networking?
In this context I am looking at any technology that:
- Is open to the public – FaceBook, Twitter etc…
- Allows people to interact and send text, files, images or movies to each other
So this excludes any internal software that runs on organizations servers – or is strictly limited to registered users only. The reasons for this are simple, if an organization implements software on its servers or network, it has full responsibility and configuration for what can and cannot be accessed or published etc – ie full moderation.
So lets look at some of the Dangers of Social Networking in Business & Education
- Time wasting
- Bullying/ Predators
- Age/ appropriate content
- Scams/ Pishing/ Security issues (viruses etc) – much easier than you think on FaceBook & Twitter links!
- Negative comments/ Reputation tarnished/ Rumours
- Identity theft/ Burglary
- Lost Job/ Opportunity
Opportunities of Social Networking in Business & Education
- Idea generation
- Problem solving
- “Just in Time” learning/ skills development
- Lead generation
- Job Search/ Head hunting
- Build relationships – with people, customers
- Builds individual user (esp learner) confidence and competence
- Transferable learning into the real world
- Data mining and research
Some Solutions to effectively use Social Networking in Business & Education
- Separate “business” or work use away from “social” contacts – Dual accounts
- Use privacy settings – learn what they do and how they work
- Consider having 2 profiles – one for “work” and one for close friends & family
- Never have too much personal data available
- Only share online what you are happy to put on a poster outside your home (unless the group/ network is security water tight)
- Never just open files unless you can confirm (live online) that they had just sent a file – i.e. you were expecting it
The only real solution is education and awareness.
I hope that this article has highlighted some of the fears as well as showing that the positives of social networking tools far out-way the dangers to an educated and savvy audience.
Single take away message…
Social networking is here to stay, and much like any core knowledge we need for our job, social media is just a new part of that job “core”.
If you are a teacher, a student, a trainer, HR professional, sales rep, engineer, doctor, nurse, paramedic, …. etc have 2 accounts – one for sharing “professional” stuff with your network.. one for family and VERY close friends only… note if there are more than 50 people on this list it is probably too big to be “personal”!
Remember – Social networks are not solutions in themselves just tools – the better and more effectively you learn to use them, the more they will do for you. Like any craft tool – practice makes… permanent – so learn effectively!