There’s been a lot of talk lately about where the partition lies between personal and professional communication. Social Media has blurred the lines, and for better or worse, Facebook has become the testing ground.
A union representing employees at a New York grocery chain has asked federal labor regulators to determine whether the store’s social media policy violates workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
The episode is yet another situation of companies seeking to influence or regulate their employees’ social media activities. Some have gone so far as to require job seekers to hand over their Facebook passwords, something that Facebook itself urged users to decline.
Some states are considering laws that will protect social media users. Maryland recently passed legislation prohibiting employers from asking for passwords, and Connecticut lawmakers are currently at work writing similar legislation.
Making It Pay:
Audible recently opened a $20m fund that will reward authors who are willing to use social media to help sell their own works.
Authors who sign up will be encouraged to use social media to promote their work, and will receive $1 for every audiobook sold from Audible.com, Audible.co.uk or iTunes, on top of their royalties.
Audible’s chief executive Donald Katz admits that the motivation for the scheme is not “purely altruistic”.
“We are willing to do this because I think it will grow our sales and the authors’ sales,” he said. “The fact is people buy a Neil Gaiman, not a HarperCollins or a Simon & Schuster, so it is for us to connect with the writers and hopefully wake them up to what they can do. If it works it can become a channel of membership and sales.”
But, Will It Last?
Social Media, like Blogs and Chat and all the things that came before it are just tools for communication of ideas. They are interesting and useful for as long as they are free, or at least perceived to be.
But when they become a constant source of annoyance because of over-saturation of advertising, and spam… the on-line equivalent of junk-mail, people tend to move on to something else in a hurry.
With the never ending variety of games and other visual attractors, Facebook has become a time-consuming distraction that cuts into efficiency and performance in the work-place, which has caused many companies to severely limit or even restrict access to it and other public social media. And, as we’ve seen in the public media, disputes over content ownership and Copyright are increasing.
At the same time, industry leaders have seen that there are advantages to social media platforms as communications and collaborative development platforms, and companies are moving to develop and/or deploy commercially available versions of them on their internal corporate networks at an ever increasing pace.
So, Where Do We Go From Here?
Only time will tell. Social Media is constantly evolving, and you can only buy up so many companies and integrate so many applications or features before a platform becomes so cumbersome it is no longer useful. Apple is already learning this with iTunes, and it is only a matter of time before Facebook is no longer the king-of-the-hill.
Then again, of course…