Social media use is often discussed in terms of generational breakdowns, with the assumption that millennials — those between the ages of 18 and 34 — are more likely to be connected via social. And though our data did show slightly increased social connections among millennials (70 percent compared to 60 percent of their Gen X colleagues) the platform choice across generations was similar, with 85 percent of each generation choosing to connect on Facebook. LinkedIn connection percentages were also very close across the three generations. The only platform that showed a significant generation-specific spread was Instagram, which 39 percent of millennial employees connect over versus only 15 percent of Baby Boomers, those between the ages of 51 and 69.Just over one-fourth (27 percent) of respondents say they choose to connect with all colleagues. Women are less likely (21 percent) than men (31 percent); this suggests men may view social media connections as a means to network rather than forge friendships. Around 46 percent of respondents say their connections on social media worry them, as they fear being judged for a post. For example, if you're connected with your colleagues, you might prove more reluctant to call out sick when you're not sick, then post pictures from a baseball game or a hike. Similarly, there's always the chance that those opaque social-media complaints about coworkers might be read by the offending officemate, which would get really awkward. Sub-tweeting about annoying coworkers may also be why ten percent of respondents say they don’t follow bosses on social media; some 55 percent of people report they bite their tongue rather than posting to a social network, which scales to 61 percent for HR professionals. Around 67 percent of those between the ages of 51 and 69 turn the other social media cheek when annoying or awkward office interactions occur. In terms of your career, limiting your network exposure on social media is probably your best path forward. Rather than post every clever thought you have, act like everyone is watching – because they are.
The pressure to take all of your real-life relationships online is immense. You may even be tempted to "friend" or follow your co-workers and bosses. But should you? Igloo Software, which builds social software for businesses, recently released its 2018 State of Social Media report, focusing largely on how co-workers interact on social media (if they do at all). One of the more surprising takeaways from the report: More coworkers have ‘friended’ each other on Facebook than connected on LinkedIn. In sum, 91 percent of Igloo’s respondents say they have colleagues they’ve connected with on Facebook, whereas only 41 percent did so on LinkedIn. There wasn’t a generational divide, either (save for Instagram). From Igloo's report: