Social Media Etiquette: Should You Friend Your Boss?

The expansion of social media sites has blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives.  Today, many employees may be fielding friend requests from their supervisors or even extending these invitations themselves.

But should you friend your boss on Facebook – or any other social media site?  Here are the pros and cons:

Pro: Adding your boss can help you build rapport at work.  Connecting with your boss and co-workers on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites can help you connect with them as people.  However, it may be wise to add professional contacts to a limited profile view in order to keep some distance between your personal and professional lives.

Pro: Connecting with your boss on some sites can integrate you further into the company.  Here, it’s important to differentiate between “personal” and “professional” social media sites.  Consider adding your boss as a contact on professional sites, like LinkedIn, especially if your company is attempting to establish a strong presence on the site.  By doing this, you connect further with your boss and your company.  You also establish that you’re there for business, not chatter.

Pro: Connecting online can help you build a network.  Many people think of social media merely as a way to play games, talk to friends, or share funny pictures, but these sites also function as powerful networking tools.  Adding your supervisor or co-workers can help you establish or expand this network.  Again, consider which sites you use to build your professional contact list: LinkedIn or other professional sites may be more useful than Facebook.

Con:  Your boss may see things you never intended to share.  When you add your boss or a co-worker without planning ahead, your professional and personal lives may cross in ways you didn’t expect – and the consequences can be heavy.  Think carefully about which audiences will see which posts when you add your supervisor on a social media network.

Con:  Your social media streams may not portray you in the best possible light.  Do you use Facebook to vent about tough days at work, relationships with others, or political issues that really bug you?  If so, friending your boss on this site may be a bad idea.  If you decide to add your boss on social media, choose streams that you limit to professional uses, like LinkedIn.

Con: Friends who rarely update are rarely a good investment – even when they’re your boss.  The reason few social media “power users” buy contacts on Twitter or other sites is because, when a connection doesn’t communicate, their value to your network is low.  If your boss invites you to connect on social media but never uses it, you’re better off investing in your relationship with your supervisor elsewhere – like during work hours.

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