November 18th, 2013

The Benefits and Pitfalls of Social Media

by Jacqueline Whitmore

For better or worse, social media has forever altered the way we communicate with friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. There have been some growing pains like whether to friend your boss and the temptation to rant about the job you dislike. But the ability to reach out to old acquaintances and keep up with friends is an unprecedented benefit.

On the other hand, there can be too much of a good thing. If you want social media to help and not hinder your personal and professional relationships, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.

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Keep your status updates appropriate. If it’s a serious announcement, call your friends and family instead of posting it to Facebook or Twitter. As with e-mail, some information isn’t appropriate to share on social media. News of deaths, pregnancies or major life changes should be delivered over the phone or in-person before making a public announcement on your social networks.

Respect your friends’ privacy. Not everyone is comfortable sharing personal information on social media. Be careful to not announce news your friends are not comfortable disclosing. This includes tagging your friends in pictures. Ideally, you should ask your acquaintances and make sure it’s OK for you to tag them in status updates or photos.

Don’t expect everyone to accept your friend request. Some people like to keep their personal and professional lives separate. Don’t be surprised if a co-worker, client, or boss doesn’t accept your friend request on Facebook. Many people prefer LinkedIn to keep in touch with their professional contacts.

Remember Facebook is not an alternative for in-person meetings. Nothing will ever replace the connection of seeing your friends one-on-one. Social media is certainly a supplement to your relationships, but it shouldn’t be your only form of communication. Next time you’re tempted to send a message over Facebook, opt to call or send a handwritten note instead.

Do you think social media has affected your relationships positively or negatively? Please share in the comment section below.


photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc

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