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YOUR CAREER

Should you ‘friend’ your coworkers on social media?

Do you “like” the idea of office friendships crossing over into social media?

More than seven in 10 professionals (71 percent) polled by staffing firm OfficeTeam said it’s appropriate to connect with colleagues on Facebook. Slightly fewer feel it’s okay to follow coworkers on Twitter (61 percent), Instagram (56 percent) and Snapchat (44 percent). In contrast, less than half of senior managers interviewed think it’s fine to engage with fellow employees on Facebook (49 percent), Twitter (34 percent), Instagram (30 percent) and Snapchat (26 percent).

According to the worker survey, male employees and those ages 18 to 34 find it more acceptable to connect with colleagues on social media than their counterparts.

Workers were asked, “How appropriate do you think it is to connect with coworkers on the following social media channels?” Their responses:

Facebook Twitter Instagram Snapchat
Very appropriate 27% 22% 20% 14%
Somewhat appropriate 44% 39% 36% 30%
Not very appropriate 16% 22% 25% 31%
Not appropriate at all 13% 17% 19% 26%
100% 100% 100% 101%*

Senior managers were asked, “How appropriate do you think it is to connect with coworkers on the following social media channels?” Their responses:

Facebook Twitter Instagram Snapchat
Very appropriate 4% 2% 5% 2%
Somewhat appropriate 45% 32% 25% 24%
Not very appropriate 28% 41% 39% 36%
Not appropriate at all 23% 25% 32% 36%
Don’t know/no answer 0% 0% 0% 2%
100% 100% 101%* 100%

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

“While the lines between our personal and professional lives continue to blur, not everyone’s comfortable connecting with colleagues on digital channels,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Before friending or following someone, check if that individual has other coworkers in their networks. When in doubt, let fellow employees make the first move online.”

Britton added, “Interacting with colleagues on social media can help build stronger relationships. But it should be done with care—you might not want to share everything with work friends that you would with closer personal contacts.”

OfficeTeam offers the following don’ts when connecting with coworkers on social media, along with advice for what to do instead:

Don’t Do This Instead
Add everyone you work with to your social networks Be selective. If a colleague’s connections are limited to a few office buddies, sending an invite could be overstepping your boundaries.
Reject a coworker’s friend request Explain that you prefer to keep your account limited to personal use and suggest connecting on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. In some cases, it may be best to accept the offer so you don’t offend the person. Adjust privacy settings to control what information he or she has access to.
Post updates or photos that reveal too much Use your best judgment when sharing. Not everyone needs to know what you did last night, and certain topics can come across as unprofessional. Remove questionable images from your profiles.
Interact with people in your network only when you need something Pay it forward by helping your online contacts and show support for their personal interests. You may discover things in common you can bond over.

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