OVER one fifth of Irish small businesses have had to sack or warn staff over their social media behaviour on the likes of Facebook and Twitter over the past year.
And 44pc of bosses are now checking these platforms before recruiting staff, the results of a new survey of SMEs and business owners from Bord Gais/Mindshare showed today.
One quarter of business owners check social media over breakfast, a further 23pc wait until they get into the office while 1pc wake up during the night to check social media.
The results should make sober reading for anyone on social media and especially those looking for a job as the nascent economic recovery continues.
“While it’s the still the wild wild west for some on social media, this survey shows that the marshals have arrived in town bring order,” said communications consultant Damien Mulley.
“Your boss is probably following you on Twitter under that generic account name and watching what you’re saying about the company.
“Behave on social media as you do in person.
“Having said that, employers need to be careful too and realise that employment law is harsh on employers so if they’re profiling job applicants and using social media, they themselves might get in trouble as you are only meant to evaluate on the application received.”
And the research also highlighted the downside of our fascination with social media .
One in five said social medic negatively impacted their concentration and productivity while 12pc said it affected their sleep patterns.
Over half of business owners now use a smartphone to check social media platforms while 27pc use a laptop, 13pc a desktop and 9pc a tablet.
A further 41pc of firms are encouraging their staff to use social media as part of their work roles while 37pc expect to increase their investment in the sector over the next 12 months.
The survey also reflected the growing trend of an increased spend on online advertising with the majority of that budget (17pc) being spent online.
“There are great opportunities for small and medium business in Ireland to successfully use social media and hopefully the addition of new SME categories in this year’s Awards will encourage more small businesses to discover new and innovative ways to create better communications with their customers and help grow their businesses,” said Eoin Ó Súilleabháin, digital and social media manager with Bord Gáis Energy.
The survey was conducted ahead of the Social Media Awards 2014, known as the #Sockies14, which will be held at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre on Thursday June 5.
Breaking down the social media platforms, 91pc use Facebook, followed by LinkedIn at 69pc and 64pc with a Twitter presence.
Facebook is considered the most important platform followed by LinkedIn and Twitter.
Networking was the main reason cited for the use of social media but other said they “feared missing out” on news.
Bord Gais is the main sponsor of Social Media Awards 2014, which recognise the use of digital platforms by Irish businesses, while Independent.ie/Irish Independent is the media sponsor.
The awards include categories for SMEs for the first time this year – the two small business categories are for best use of social media and best blog.
Independent.ie and Irish Independent are media sponsors of the awards – follow @indobusiness for updates.