In both professional and personal life, people form groups based on affinities and expertise. We gravitate to others with whom we share interests.
Deceptively simple, online social networks contain great power. They change the online space from one of static web pages and stale marketing messages to a live, vibrant network of connected individuals who share their abilities, expertise and interests.
Online social networks take many forms, and are created for many reasons. Two broad characteristics are:
Profiles – Each member in a network has an online profile that serves as the individual’s identity in the network.
Connections – Online social networks typically enable individuals to make connections with others in the network.
64% of recruiters use professional sites such as LinkedIn to conduct background checks.
66% said they would not hire the person for the job if they found risqué photographs and/or other provocative comments relating to alcohol consumption, drug use and/or sexual exploits*
A recruiter’s use of data from a social networking site generally would not be a “consumer report” subject to U.S. Fair Credit Report Act – but some screening uses/services could be FCRA covered. Check w/ your attorney.
Useful to review EEO policies and programs with an eye to guarding against discrimination and disparate impact claims.
* Source: ERE Media's study of recruitment professionals in 2006
Microsoft and Starbucks recruiters all use LinkedIn to source candidates
Goldman Sachs and Deloitte are using Alumni networks to push for their brand, rehire former employees, and identify contacts at potential partners and customers.
Hinting at the potential of social networking at work, thousands of employees of Shell Oil, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric have Facebook accounts. A Facebook network of Citigroup employees--only those with Citigroup e-mail accounts can join--has 1,870 users.
McDonald's began using social networking after an internal study showed that employees were often looking for colleagues with expertise. McDonald's employees and some partners will soon be able to create their own profiles on the company's Awareness social media platform, from which they can blog and participate in communities
Northrop Grumman has created what it calls "communities of practice," groups focused on a topic or technology, from the guts of systems engineering to a community of new hires. These communities contain documents associated with the community and a listing of group members with their professional profiles.
Wachovia, the nation's fourth largest bank is rolling out a social networking service for 110,000 employees over the next several months, giving workers a sophisticated knowledge-management platform
Now open to anyone, FB retains parts of original privacy model. An email for the school, e.g., TJefferson@ virginia.edu was the admission ticket to join a school network. Some groups/networks still require an email with the right domain.
“ Add friends” sends friend request for approval.
Can create and join “groups” – most open. Some professional (e.g., SAP HR), but lots of junk (12+ separate groups for people who “hate crocs”).
Users controls whether they want to make their profile, pictures, videos, applications available to only friends, selected friends, or everyone. No granularity yet in controlling resume-type profile information.
Social networks can sap employee productivity or, worse, be a source of governance violations or breaches of company protocol.
Forrester Research recently found that 14% of companies have disciplined employees and 5% fired them for offenses related to social networking.
As a result half of companies, according to Financial News, restrict access to Facebook.
The city of Toronto blocked access to social networking sites four months ago. "There's potential for staff to spend an inordinate amount of time on sites like this," explains a spokesman for the city.
Generally employers are free to make unfair, stupid, arbitrary, and wrongheaded hiring and termination decisions, even based on false information, as long as in doing so they do not violate some specific law.
One category of specific laws that could be violated by an adverse employment decision based on information on a social networking site is federal and state discrimination law.