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Work Check: Should you add your coworkers on social media?

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader May 06, 2022

Hello Everyone!

Today I took the time to listen to Episode 4 of the Work Check podcast.  If you haven't heard it yourself, go check it out: https://link.chtbl.com/workcheck?sid=social.twitter.season2.050422

Personally I thought this was a really good topic to debate, and while I'm listening to the arguments presented by both debaters, I found myself agreeing with both of them the entire way.

From the "PRO" side, I would agree that I think that as technology continues to change we need to change and adapt with it.  I also agree that I have had many positive interactions with co-workers & former co-workers through social media.

From the "CON" side, I completely understand the feeling of wanting to keep some things private away from co-workers, and trying to maintain a professional and personal version of yourself.

From my own commentary on both sides, working for a cyber-security company, privacy is a bit of an illusion on social media.  If you want to limit the audience, then you need to actively limit the audience yourself.  I also generally only add co-workers to social media that I would likely interact with in some form outside of work hours.  

Ultimately, I came to the same conclusion that @Christine P_ Dela Rosa did as the judge for this debate and that was that based on the question asked, I would agree with the "PRO" side.

I'd love to know what others thought of this episode!

13 comments

Yes, I agree! I think there are pros and cons on both side so really any side is worthy. But I don't often think through all the many reasons why connecting would be beneficial. 

The debate I least think about but appreciate? Normally, I think of social media as interactions just on social media, but there's a benefit of amplifying wins or support. So if coworkers can see when I'm particularly proud of something in my life or something I'm struggling with, they can bring that back to the workplace and teammates can learn more about my life. 

What do you mean by social media? Which one?

I actively add my direct colleagues on LinkedIN, but I've taken a stand not to add them anywhere else (e.g., Facebook). If after a while we become very good friends, could change that - but so far in my 'new' company (have been there for a bit over one year), I haven't felt like adding anybody on FB as LinkedIN seems enough.

Like # people like this

This is how I approach it too. 

Yes, I would like to add coworkers...

With any friendship, it takes time, and in my case, I want to feel a sense of trust/safety there. I don't feel obliged to have my boundaries potentially crossed by incorporating new friends. 

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Interesting topic! I have some of my closest coworkers on my social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook) but I think the biggest thing for me is emotional safety. I need to know that the people in my personal spaces respect me for my work ethic and the strategy I can bring to the table — but also that they can separate those things from some of the late nights, political rants, and mental health discussions that I post. 

Not everyone is able to work in such a safe or healthy environment. For that, I'm lucky!

Will give the episode a listen over lunch and update with any thoughts. :) 

~ POST LUNCH UPDATE! 

I am really glad I listened to this one. I am still a little torn. 

The point that adding coworkers on social helps us feel more accountable to them — I think that's a great angle. I love that. I don't want to let people that I see as my closest friends and teammates down. For the coworker I see at almost every Minnesota United soccer game, I'll drop everything to help!

On the other hand, the note about seeing people "as a whole person" being a benefit didn't really resonate with me. As a young woman in a professional environment, I have had to deal with some condescension. I feel like it can be hard to be seen as a professional with the credentials I have — 7 years of corporate experience, half at a Fortune 50 company, and an MBA — because on the outside I also happen to look like I'm in my mid-20s (admittedly, I am).

Do I think that someone who thinks of me as "just the marketing girl" or worse is going to be more pleasant to work with if they see what I'm up to at midnight on Saturday? That's an easy no. What I post on Instagram isn't going to help me be taken more seriously.

This brings me back to my original feeling, that I'm happy to add the folks that I already have a strong relationship with. If I'm not feeling valued by someone, I don't think I'm willing to give them extra access to my life. Fortunately, this is only a few people over the course of my career. But for the people I'm working well and frequently with, I do think it's deepened our relationships!

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It's kind of a mine field, and I'm truly ambivalent. On one hand, In my early career I was burned by a colleague who took a post out of context to make trouble for me at work, which made me leery of adding colleagues on social media. 

Alternately, I had been friends with my (now) CEO on social media for about a decade before coming to my current job - I remember when he and his partners founded Clevyr, because we talked about it on Twitter. I believe him knowing the authentic me was an asset in my hiring process. 

I think the final (non)decision for me is that it's tough to know who to add or not, and it has to be on a very case-by-case basis. 

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Taranjeet Singh Community Leader May 11, 2022

I agree with both PRO and CON sides, but I am a bit more inclined towards keeping the personal and professional versions of myself separate, until there are some co-workers whom I interact with outside work-hours in a more personal than professional form. And I tend to only add such co-workers on my social media service accounts (including, professional social media service accounts like LinkedIn).

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John Funk Community Leader May 12, 2022

I would say only add them if they are truly friends. In other words, if you weren't working with them, would you still hang out together or do other social events together? If no, then don't add them. 

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Darryl Lee Atlassian Team May 12, 2022

Good point!

From my perspective, I'm more leaning to the PRO side as the audience check before posting your contents is essential to act for privacy protection, it's more like a personal choice no matter whether there are coworkers in the network or not.

Alternatively, have 2 separate accounts on the social media to screen the network and only move the ones who are considered as close-relationship into the main account.

Not sure if this is the ideal way, but privacy costs and does require the user to be mindful. 😃

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I must disagree with you, @Jimmy Seddon@Christine P_ Dela Rosa, given I've had bitter-sweet experiences on this topic in the past, and I wouldn't advise choosing any side, although it might be seen as positive.

I think @Anita Kalmane@Samie Kaufman - Your Gal at Gliffy@Anne Saunders, and @John M Funk shared the point I'm trying to make.

I will only recommend getting connected on social media with co-workers you actually trust and know, and it also depends on which social media channel and the type of content you publish there.

PRO:

  • It has an opportunity to enhance friendships and build relationships based on the topics published on X's social media channel.

CON: 

  • People could misunderstand any message published there and take it personally or even work-related. Yes, there are people with Karen-syndrome everywhere.

I'm not pro or con on this. My advice is to be careful with the type of coworkers you admit on your social media channel, consider which social media channel, and the kind of content you publish there. 

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Jimmy Seddon Community Leader May 27, 2022

@Huwen Arnone -DEISER- thank you for your thoughts on this!

I think we are saying the same thing.  My last comment was:

"I also generally only add co-workers to social media that I would likely interact with in some form outside of work hours."

So while my answer is yes I would add co-workers on social media, I'm picky about who i would add.

Umm Yeah I guess! socializing with coworkers seems cool.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I agree with those who consider anonymity on the Internet an illusion that has long been recognized. I never succeeded, no matter how much I tried to separate my personal life from work. I work as a teacher, and children constantly try to find me on the Internet and learn more about my family and personal relationships. Because of this, I can never relax somewhere in a bar or on the beach; it seems to me that my children can see it. Now I am developing my TikTok account with educational content and using the services of TikFreeFollowers to increase my subscribers. Such a large blog has made my anonymity on the Internet impossible, so I have already generally accepted this, which I advise you.

I did it and I really regret!!! internet is good and all of us have social media but my coworker destroyed my job and life!

Craig Nodwell Community Leader Jun 24, 2022

Keeping work and life separated since before social media.  Other than LinkedIn I do not EVER add a current clients staff or rather co-worker to my social media.  Once I leave a client that usually changes with one or two people I've grown close to.  Being a consultant probably makes this easier.

I think it depends on how close of a relationship you have with the people you work with. I connect with everyone I can on LinkedIn, but on other social media sites I try to refrain. First off because I only have Instagram; no Facebook and no Twitter. I'm just not that into social media. I connect with coworkers on Instagram, but only if I have worked with them for a while and I trust them! 

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