6 Tips for Using Social Networks at the Office

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Anyone who’s worked in an office for an extended period of time knows how hard it is to stay completely on task all day long. Sometimes giving yourself a mental break by checking social network updates and making a few plans can give you the energy you need to get through the day. Unfortunately, most workplaces frown on social network usage while on the clock, so you may need to get a little bit creative. Read on for some tips on how to work social networking into your office routine.

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1. Get Permission – This often overlooked strategy works exceptionally well if the work you do can somehow be expanded to include a little bit of social networking. Many modern companies are getting ready to start using services like Facebook and Twitter to build interest in a website or expand their customer base, so an offer to handle a social networking task that benefits the company officially is a great way to squeeze in a few personal status checks and Twitter updates without getting into trouble.

2. Use IM To Connect To Twitter – If you are allowed to use an instant messenger at work, you can probably get away with setting up your IM client to connect you to Twitter as well. Tweetswitch is designed to let you connect your Twitter feeds to most popular instant messenger services. You can use a messaging client to send and receive tweets just like you send and receive instant messages.

3. Use An Outlook Facebook Plug-In – Microsoft Outlook is a standard feature in most offices, so using it to connect to Facebook can be a great way to keep tabs on Facebook friends without looking like you’re shirking your duties. There are several Outlook plug-ins out there that are designed to let you send and receive Facebook status updates from within the program. With a plug-in that uses Outlook to check Facebook, you can make your social network checks look like standard office emailing. Start with Microsoft’s Facebook Connector, an official way to add Facebook to Outlook.

4. Use Your Cell Phone – Twitter was designed for cell phones, so using it in the matter intended isn’t too much of a stretch. What most people don’t realise is that the vast majority of modern cell phones also come ready to connect to Facebook for status updates and regular checking. Facebook and Twitter are both perfectly usable in standard cell phones and smart phones from almost every manufacturer out there, frequently without doing too much damage to your data plan. This approach has the added benefit of leaving your company with no evidence that you’re using social networks at work as long as you’re careful to use a personal cell phone instead of a company option.

5. Pretend You’re Working While You Tweet – If your office has no rule against Twitter usage but you’re worried about looking like you don’t do anything else, you may be able to get away with using a secondary client that connects to the Twitter server from your desktop. Consider Spreadtweet to get full access to everything you can do from Twitter while looking like you’re working on a spreadsheet in an Excel clone.

6. Make A Creative Excuse – When all else fails, have some good excuses ready for when your boss catches you using a social networking site at work. One of the best ways to handle this situation is to consider a possible work related reason for anything you’re doing on a network at the time, from checking out a competing Facebook page to considering the feasibility of running Twitter updates for your department. A good reason for checking up on networks will look much better when you get surprised than rushing to close the offending website. Get your creativity flowing by checking out this list of Facebook excuses that range from funny to usable.

This guest article was written by John Brook at Office Kitten, on of the UK’s top suppliers of envelopes for businesses.

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