Do You Look at Social Media at Work? Duh, of Course


Raise your hand if you use social media at the office. According to a Pew Research Center survey, you're not alone.

Modern workers incorporate Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks into a range of activities—sometimes professional or job-related, but often for personal reasons. A majority of people admit to skimming their timelines to "take a mental break" from the daily grind. Many also use the services to connect with friends and family while at work.

Others take advantage of the services as a way to make or maintain professional connections, solve inter-office problems, build or strengthen relationships with coworkers, learn about people they work with, and ask work-related questions of people inside and outside their organization.

"The transparency that social media facilitates comes with costs as well as benefits," Pew said in its report.

Some 14 percent of workers have uncovered information online that has improved their professional opinion of a colleague, while 16 percent had the opposite reaction to something they saw on a social network.

But not everyone has the luxury of skimming Facebook photos or reading tweets at their desk. As Pew pointed out, many employers have policies about social media use on the job (51 percent), or about how employees may present themselves online (32 percent).

Facebook (19 percent) and LinkedIn (14 percent) are the most popular choices among those operating specific platforms for work-related purposes. Twitter (3 percent) and other unnamed services (5 percent) proved surprisingly unnecessary to respondents—9 percent of whom use a social media tool provided by their company.

In the end, a majority (56 percent) of surveyed workers believe that using social media ultimately helps their job performance. One in five (22 percent), meanwhile, believe it mostly hurts.

"Even as the Internet has embedded itself in numerous aspects of American life, many of today's workers make only marginal use of the Internet for accomplishing work-related tasks," the Pew report said.

In fact, 17 percent of workers report that they "hardly ever" use the Web on a typical day for work-related tasks, while a quarter said they "never" do.

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