Updated August 28 at 4:28pm

Social media presents opportunity, pitfalls

By Rhonda Miller
PBN Staff Writer

Changes in health care laws and labor relations will affect businesses dramatically next year, but many human resources managers at a Providence Business News-sponsored Employment Trends 2013 summit said they consider social media a contender for a top spot on the list of concerns.

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HUMAN RESOURCES

Social media presents opportunity, pitfalls

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Changes in health care laws and labor relations will affect businesses dramatically next year, but many human resources managers at a Providence Business News-sponsored Employment Trends 2013 summit said they consider social media a contender for a top spot on the list of concerns.

“If you don’t participate [in marketing], you’re missing the boat,” National Lumber Director of Human Resources Maria Fratiello said at the Dec. 13 summit at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Providence Warwick. “But if you do participate, you’re kind of setting yourself up” to pay close attention to issues involving employee use, she said after the summit.

Mansfield, Mass.-based National Lumber, which has a location in Warwick, is going full-speed ahead using social media for marketing, Fratiello said.

“We’re tweeting information to our customers and we have new products on Facebook and Twitter,” said Fratiello, who was among 75 human resource professionals and other business leaders at the conference.

Those are common benefits of social media that companies are increasingly taking advantage of. But audience members were briefed on complex issues companies face as social media becomes a daily consideration and creates a lot of gray areas.

“The best practice is not to screen potential job candidates using Google or Facebook, because you might unwittingly discriminate, for instance, against some people who are older or poor and not using social media or don’t have access to a computer,” said Brian Lamoureux, a partner in Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West.

“Caution” is the guiding principle for human resources professionals using social media, said Lamoureux, who shut down his Facebook account.

“I’m more concerned about my privacy than connecting with people I don’t care about,” Lamoureux said, noting his concern about information from Facebook collected by the marketing firm Datalogix.

Lamoureux said deactivating a Facebook account doesn’t delete it. Additional steps are required.

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