Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness
Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

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Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

3 Social media communication in sport workplaces

Many organisations use social media among larger workplace groups, and also to speed up knowledge generation. Media such as blogs, wikis, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, all used alongside internal social-networking sites are often utilised. It’s undoubtedly a communication channel that allows many different people to contribute to discussions in an easily accessible manner, and this is part of its appeal. Since this is widespread in many workplaces, it is important to think about how to send suitable messages via this channel.

An image of people sitting around a table holding note pads and mobile phones.
Figure 2 Does social media blur professional, social and personal boundaries?

Three distinctive features of communicating on social media are:

  1. In face-to-face interaction you speak to different people in different ways. You don't speak to your father-in-law the way you speak to your colleagues. However, on social media, you write your message without necessarily knowing who will be reading it. All these readers will see the same message and make different assumptions about the sender.

    This connects to communication partly being about managing impressions or a performance provided for a particular audience. The difficulty with social media is a potential blurring of your different professional, social and personal group boundaries.

  2. Another distinctive feature of social media communication is the possibility of your account becoming an ‘echo chamber’, with a tendency towards confirmation bias (also outlined in Session 2): social media can reinforce the beliefs of users because users generally tend to seek out news and views that tally with their own opinions. Research suggests that social media can create an echo chamber in which a network of like-minded people share controversial views and selective information. This means that any biases held are simply repeated back to users unchallenged and thereby confirmed as fact. For example, a group of sport practitioners may convince themselves that they are open-minded about people with body piercings, but if their social media circle is drawn from people with limited experience of such body decorations, any stereotypes may often be reinforced without challenge.
  3. Watch this short animation. The main message it conveys is: it’s best to assume that everything you put on social media is public and searchable or has the potential to be.
Download this video clip.Video player: e119_2018j_vwr103-640x360.mp4
Skip transcript


"What's New About New Media Communication," or "Think Before You Tweet." It's hard to imagine now, but the only way to gossip about your friends used to be by letter or carrier pigeon.
So there's no denying technology has brought about major changes in the way we communicate. We've come from sending letters, to speaking across time and space, to having unlimited communication at our fingertips. But with this brave new world of constant communication comes many pitfalls.
Here, we see Frank tweeting about his new boss. What could possibly go wrong? Well, with face-to-face conversation, a huge amount of what we communicate comes via our expressions and tone of voice. But online, it's all too easy for things like sarcasm to be misinterpreted.
And then there's social media's remarkable reach, sharing and spreading like some alien super-virus. So it's easy for Frank's innocent little jibe to travel far beyond his circle, for it to be altered, commented on, or even, heaven help him, turned into a meme.
And unlike the nonsense Frank shouts into his friend's hear at 2:00 AM, what we say online stays there in an easily-searchable format. So 20 years later, when he's become a loved and revered author, Frank's innocent little comment can come back to haunt him and really undermine his angle.
So Frank, what have we learned? That we can no longer treat our casual conversations as private in today's online world. It's best to assume that everything we say on social media is public or has the potential to be. Or, to put it more simply, Frank, think before you tweet.
End transcript
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