Working and Facebooking: No Longer Impossible

Early in my career I had to be quick on the draw when it came to social media. Having Facebook open was a waste of time. MySpace (which was still popular at the time) was a HUGE no-no. I don’t know why one was worse than the other, but it was for some reason.  Anyway I was a subordinate to everyone, as careers tend to start, so the last thing I wanted was to do was send the message that I indulged in silly little time-wasters designed to stalk high school boyfriends. So when my supervisors walked by, I had to shrink that screen FAST.

Fast-forward 7 years, and now if Facebook is NOT open on my desktop I’m not doing my job.

Let’s take a minute and appreciate how cool it is that social media is a one-stop shop for entertainment, time-wasting, and incredibly powerful and ever-emerging marketing and customer communication. And that it’s an integral part of my (and probably also your) job.

But there is still a huge stigma about having Facebook open at work. The truth is, even though practically every workstation in America has a desk on it with Internet connectivity, “being online” still feels taboo.  But why? We all acknowledge that we need and use the Internet for business interests, especially in the association space.

I find inspiration and content on practically every website I visit. My daily smile that I post on MemberClicks’ social media every morning almost always comes from Reddit, widely recognized as the biggest time-waster website out there. Pretty much every jpg that inspired my SocialFish contributor posts came from Pinterest. Now Pinterest is part of my daily workflow as MemberClicks has a presence there, but it’s still fairly new in the social marketing world and has yet to prove itself as a must-have for internet marketing campaigns. (Side note: This isn’t to say that Pinterest hasn’t been a very valuable resource for us, but for an executive with limited time and resources it might not yet be the best investment of time from a marketing standpoint.) So in theory, you could be searching for paint swatches or a crock-pot recipe and be struck with your next brilliant blog idea. Like I frequently do, apparently.

For example, here’s the pin that led to this blog:

Naturally, there’s the NSFW concern. There is a wide (and we mean WIDE) variety of content available online that’s… shall we say… inappropriate. Try as you might to keep your computer screen PG-13, it’s almost impossible to avoid it, even with filters.

And then there’s also the fact that social media might have absolutely nothing to do with your job. Your company might even have it blocked, along with YouTube, Twitter, and other social networking platforms.

So here’s what you say to your boss when you make the case for that content to be unblocked, or when you have to think fast to justify why you were on Facebook between 9am and 5pm on a Wednesday. Now keep in mind these are LEGITIMATE reasons to use social media for business. If you were price comparing Italian leather boots between Amazon and Zappos you are on your own.

1)   You were monitoring the activity on your company/association’s page

Every department in every company from the CEO to the janitor needs to look in on their employer’s social media from time to time. Remember that social media is the public’s chance to speak directly to anyone and everyone about what’s going on in their life, and that includes any interactions they may have with you.

2)   You were checking out the competition or partners

Intellectual property should be guarded, but the Internet, social media in particular, is a playground where ideas are shared. Who set the bar for your industry’s social media presence? You need to keep an eye on that.

3)   You were looking for relevant content to share or read

If it you want it to be successful, content must be shared on social media. That’s a huge part of where the term “going viral” comes from, except instead of literal word of mouth things are passed through Facebook mentions and Twitter links. I can almost guarantee that if you’re looking for something to read about your business, area of expertise, or your association’s interest you will something on social media.

So now do you feel better about having Facebook open when your boss walks by? Or bosses of the world, do you feel better about your employees spending their work time on Facebook? If not, that’s ok. Change doesn’t happen overnight. But I bet you… it will happen.