Social media is transforming the way people share information and connect. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are changing the way we intermingle, and many organizations are struggling with the change. Some companies are even trying to avoid social media all together. Some companies block social media sites in the workplace and even expect employees to avoid it at home. Social media, is used correctly can allow employers to benefit from it. However, if it is not used correctly some companies can run into legal and financial issues.

Social Media Effects the Entire Organization

Social media is clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. Supervisors and managers are starting to understand that social media touches all parts of the organization. Even if an organization has no intention of utilizing social media, its employees are. Social media outlets such as Facebook and Linked in have specific areas to list your workplace. When an employee comments about their day at work, others know exactly what business they are referring too.

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Another site, allows employees to give feedback of their employer on a forum board. This site allows them to post about the culture, employees and salaries. Potential applicants can find out about the business before applying for a position (Bhutta 2010).

In addition to the employees creating a social media presence, customers and clients are also doing so. Clients can help companies grow or fail and customers can do the same. With the internet in the palm of almost every person in America’s hand, it is easy to comment about service and products.

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Many companies look for feedback and use social media to obtain that feedback. When companies receive worthy feedback through social media, they are able to use social media to their advantage in all facets including recruiting, branding, onboarding and training.

Social Media as a Recruiting Tool

Being in the Human Resources field, I know the benefits of using social media as a recruiting tool. These benefits include increased time and efficiency and improved sourcing of high quality candidates. When sourcing through social media it is very easy to search for your ideal candidate. Sites such as Linkedin allow you to create candidate searches to find the perfect candidate. You are able to select years of experience, area of expertise, average length spent in each position, location, educational background and much more. With these search fields it is easy to find your ideal candidate. In addition, using social media saves time. In the past when looking for candidates online, you had to rummage through resume after resume. Now, you can use your mouse to click and search-it really is that simple. Recruiters can now reach out to potential candidate’s right on the linkedin site; there is no need to pick up the phone and call. A simple message will suffice in the social media world. Although social media saves you time and allow you to select your ideal candidate there are some drawbacks all recruiters need to be aware of.

These drawbacks include employment discrimination and visibility disadvantages. It is easy to figure out information on a person that is not job related. For example, one can find out race, religious beliefs and marital status to name a few. All of these examples can get a recruiter in trouble. Facebook allows you to find out tons of information that is not job related. Some recruiters may discriminate on the basis of these examples and could face legal ramifications as some are protected by law (Acquisti, Gross, 2006). In addition to discrimination, recruiters might run into visibility disadvantages. Some age groups and/or ethnic groups may not be privileged to these sites thus making them unable to get their information out there for the recruiter to see. Though recruiting has been made easier due to social media, recruiters have to be careful and make sure they are using sites that are not discriminating.

If a company is a government contractor or deals with government contractors, the legal ramifications can much greater. Most government contractors will have an affirmative action plan (Acquisti, Gross, 2006). This plan is in place to ensure employers are pulling applicants from every minority group if possible. If they are not doing so, they can be fined millions of dollars. I have firsthand experience with an OFCCP audit and it is not something I care to go through again. If you are audited by the OFCCP, it becomes your main priority. All of the other work you have going on is put on hold so you can gather information for the audit. Some of the items you will need to gather include all jobs filled within the date specified in the letter. From there, you will need to provide a list of all applicants which include:

•Date they applied
•Date the application was looked at
•Date a decision was made to interview or not
•Date they were brought in for an interview, if they were not selected for a position you will have to state why, if they didn’t get to the interview stage, you will also have to state why In addition to the above, the OFCCP will want to know about all of your internal movements. From there, they will also ask you about your outreach efforts and ask you the following questions
: •Where did you post?
•When did you post?
•How many applicants applied from the posting?
•How many minority sites did you post?
•What other recruiting methods did you use besides the online board?
•Can you provide a copy of all job postings with in the specified timeframe? As you can see, this can be very time consuming for an HR professional to go through. If you are not prepared for this, you will face legal ramifications. To be best prepared, you should use social media sites to your advantage to track applicant data. You should also keep track of all sites in which you posted a job. The last thing you want is an OFCCP fine. Branding Through Social Media. Through the world of the internet and technology branding of a company has become much easier. A company is able to reach markets they never could before. All it takes is a message or a “tweet” to put your company on the map. Since people are so engaged with social media they are always updating their status to say where they are, what businesses they go to, if they had good service etc.

Businesses can benefit from this type of branding because they are able to target their loyal customers. They can offer special discounts or offers to those that follow them or join their loyalty club. A really great thing about social media is the fact that businesses can connect with their customers in a timelier manner. Social media networks open the doors to new customers to enter into your world by simply logging on to a website. Many companies have internet portals that are interactive so the customer can experience something different and unique to the business. This is a great branding technique because customers want something different and memorable. The best part of the online networking and interaction, customers can virtually access the company 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Although this all seems great, there are some downsides to using social medial as a branding tool. The first and most major downside to using social media as a branding tool is the visibility.

Customers have the ability to critique your business online. With that being said, one bad review can spread across the web in seconds. It can cause people to be leery of your brand. It can also cause you to lose customers. Once your reputation is compromised it is very difficult to gain the trust and respect from customers. Businesses need to aware of their customer service and reputation when branding their company. Another downside of using social media as a branding tool is that the investment doesn’t always generate sales or customer growth. Yes, it gives customers the ability to view your information but it doesn’t make someone love your company or product. Companies can spend millions of dollars on branding to make something look cool, but if the product isn’t good, it isn’t good. In the same retrospect, if a customer has bad service it won’t matter how the product was branded. Companies still need to have a solid product or service and be able to stand by that with or without social media. In addition, there are a few hidden costs associated with using social media as a branding tool. Many people don’t think of the overhead cost.

Meaning, someone has to be there to monitor the social media, post on sites, go to events etc. Although it doesn’t cost much, if anything at all to post on a website it does cost the company through payroll expenses. Onboarding and Training through Social Media. Onboarding new employees are one of the most critical cross-functional processes in a company. The process typically involves the hiring manager, HR, IT, facilities, and training. The process can make or break an employee’s experience. The purpose of onboarding is to make sure the new employee is ready to go on their first day. In some of the companies I’ve worked for I’ve heard of people who didn’t have an email address set up for them, didn’t have a place to sit, didn’t have a computer and had no idea who their manager was after working there a month. This is highly unacceptable and unprofessional. New employees should feel ready on their first day; they shouldn’t feel like an afterthought.

According to the Aberdeen Group, 86% of new hires decide whether or not they will stay or leave the company within their first six months and new employees are 69% more likely to stay longer than three years if they experience well-structured onboarding One study reported that the impact to productivity for new hires and transfers ranged between 1% and 2.5% of total revenues. In his book “The First 90 Days,” Michael Watkins states that the break-even point, where new hires add more value than they have consumed, is usually 6.2 months. Aberdeen also reported that 89% of new hires say they don’t have the optimum level of knowledge necessary to do their job (Warner, B. 2014). When social media tools are used correctly within the business, an employee’s onboarding can be more beneficial. Social media tools can also help the cross-functional team that works together to bring in those new employees. Studies show that when a college student starts college, they automatically set up their Facebook account if they do not have one already. The next step is to get to know their roommate. It is kind of the same concept for new employees.

Their first step is to get acclimated to the culture. But, you cannot do this if you do not know your co-workers. If used correctly, businesses can create an intranet portal for their employees. This portal would allow employees to create a page dedicated to them for others to see. It’s a great way to get to know little things about your co-workers before actually meeting. The biggest advantage of using social media to assist with onboarding is that you can track everything. In my company there are spreadsheets all over the place when a new hire starts. There is a spreadsheet to indicate the materials needed, there is a spreadsheet to indicate who their direct manager is as well as the managers supervisors. There is a spreadsheet that allows the supervisor to check off orientation items they complete with the employee. To be honest, it’s a lot of useless paperwork. Sometimes, the paperwork goes missing and you are forced to start over.

With social media, you can eliminate the paperwork! There are tools that you can use to make this a seamless online process where all of the spreadsheets are in one location on the web. Social media can also be used as a tool to train new employees. At my company we preach safety every single day. In doing so, we utilize an online training tool called Articulate. This tool allows employees that are not at work during normal business hours to complete their safety training. It is so effective that we use this tool for employees on their first day. With social media, it makes it much easier and efficient to train employees across the globe. Being able to log onto the internet at any time and join a web conference is pretty amazing. You can have a webinar with people thousands of miles away due to the advancement in social media.


Many companies are very scared to jump into the world of social media, when in reality it can provide them with many benefits. I recommend that all companies utilize social media in recruiting. Just posting a job in the local paper is not going to cut it anymore. Long gone are the days of purchasing a newspaper to find a job. Companies need to be up with the times to stay competitive in the market. Another recommendation I have is to utilize programs such as Skype and Google hangouts to conduct web conferences. Not only does it save money, it gives companies a chance to reach out to their employees no matter where they are located. Finally, companies should look to use social media when onboarding. Employees are looking for a comprehensive onboarding experience and social media can help with this.

Social media can gather all new hire paperwork, connect new employees with other employees, and allow new employees to ask questions and gather information. Companies should have some sort of intranet portal for employees to create profiles. If companies start with their employees, the company will be better off in the long run. Businesses cannot function without employees and support of their employees. You need to make sure you are using the correct tools to recruit, onboard, and train your employees.

Acquisti A, Gross R. (2006). Imagined communities: Awareness, information sharing, and privacy on the Facebook. In: Privacy Enhancing Technologies, 36-58. Amy, G. (2009, January 1). Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem: Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall. Conference Papers — National Communication Bhutta, C. (2010). Not by the Book: Facebook as a Sampling Frame. Sociological Methods & Research, 57-88. Jue, A., & Marr, J. (2010). Social media at work: How networking tools propel organizational performance. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Klososky, S. (2011). Manager’s guide to social media. New York: McGraw-Hill. Klovdahl, A., Potterat, J., Woodhouse, D., Muth, J., Muth, S., & Darrow, W. (1994). Social networks and infectious disease: The Colorado Springs study. Social Science & Medicine, 79-88. Mclean, C., & Campbell, C. (2003). Locating Research Informants in a Multi-ethnic Community: Ethnic Identities, Social Networks and Recruitment Methods. Ethnicity & Health, 41-61. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2014). Social media is part of today’s workplace but its use may raise employment discrimination concerns. Retrieved from Warner, B. (2014, July). Keeping your social-media policy in the workplace–And out of the courtroom. Retrieved from

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Social Media in the Workplace. (2016, May 21). Retrieved from

Social Media in the Workplace

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