Social networking has become deeply rooted in the vast majority of everyday life. People use it for entertainment, communication and now, increasingly more for work. Yet, there are still many people who don’t want to either invest the time or don’t know how to set up profiles and use these different sites. It is not a passing fad that will be gone in a few months—it’s here to stay, so why not make the most of it?
Initially it may seem absurd, but social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are actually an ideal way to take the employee screening process a step forward. It is a way to get a glimpse into the lives of employee’s or potential employee’s lives. These personal pages are often rife with information. Just note that employers using social networking sites as a screening tool must be cautious. This technique is fairly new, and the legal issues surrounding it are evolving slowly. Until the legal rules regarding this practice are solidified, it is definitely always wise to err on the side of caution.
To stay legal while using networking sites and personal blogs for screening, it is mandatory that the business stay in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA. This act does not prohibit this type of screening, but is does require the employer to disclose to the employee or potential employee when information gathering using this method results in a negative employment decision.
Creating a set of company rules regarding social network screening is also very necessary. It will give those with the power to hire and fire something concrete to go by. If not, it will be very hard to keep all actions legal. It is also highly recommended that this person not be the one doing the research. This information needs to be gathered, and any non relevant data should be censored, as is does not pertain to the business. These words of caution should not be a deterrent from using this method. As long as the employer stays smart about it, social network screening is an invaluable tool.
Social networking can also be used to create an online presence for a company. It is not an uncommon practice for businesses to have their own page on popular networking sites. Blogs and Vlogs (video blogs) are also very common. It is a great way to communicate with Internet savvy customers. As this customer base is likely online as much as possible, an easy way to interject your business into their lives is through what they love: social activities on the Internet.
Use social sites such as MySpace to create a page for your business. It is a great promotional tool. Give your customers, both current and potential, an inside glimpse into your business’ world. Let them meet the people behind the scenes. Done correctly, this technique will bring a contemporary vibe to your company. Drive customers to your site offering promotions to those who choose to be your online “friend.” It creates a type of personal relationship with the customer. Into day’s market, an online presence is expected.