There’s no denying that social media is a powerful tool and for many people checking their news feeds, shares and likes becomes a daily routine, a chore almost - but what if you're working in maritime jobs? For a seafarer, life at sea means spending months away from home, and social media can become a real lifeline in every sense of the word.
Tips for using social media wisely in maritime jobs
The ability to stay in touch with friends, family and partners from even the most remote corner of the globe is a real advantage. And it works both ways, giving mariners the opportunity to share a little of their experience working in maritime jobs with those based on shore.
Social media is also a great informer, enabling those working in jobs at sea to keep up with the latest football scores, the political intrigue of the day or just some good old fashioned celebrity gossip! It can spark conversations on board with other crew members and play an important role in keeping a seafarer amused in those moments when loneliness or boredom kicks in.
Working in jobs at sea or ashore: use social media wisely!
But social media needs to be used with a degree of self control and commonsense. Most of us have been there and, at best, that Facebook status after one too many drinks can be embarrassing.
At worst one ill-advised Tweet complaining about your boss or workplace can have a devastating effect on your career. The same rules apply to seafarers working in maritime jobs for shipping companies as they do for those working in more ‘traditional’ land-based industries.
On a personal level the guidelines that apply when using social media on land still stand. For example, letting the world know you’re going to be at sea for a couple of weeks - whether your home is empty or not - is practically asking to be burgled.
And check those posts before hitting ‘send’: do they say anything that might make your current, or a future employer see you in a less than flattering light? These days shipping companies will probably Google you and check your social media accounts before hiring you and most will not look kindly upon rants and intolerance - no matter how ‘humorous’ the intent was.
Similarly, social media is not the place to air grievances, whether against a relative, fellow crew members or your boss. (Especially not your boss!)
Don't run into legal issues with ill advised social media posts
Professionally speaking, you’d be wise to consider the legal implications of what you post, particularly when viewed through the lens of the shipping industry. You might be sure your Tweet wouldn’t land you in hot water in your home country - but can the same be said for the region you’re currently in? Maritime jobs come with a whole different bunch of things to consider that many shore based professions don't.
In addition, your vessel will naturally feature heavily in your life at sea but you need to ensure you’re not sharing anything that could mean you fall foul of intellectual property laws.
Therefore it’s wise to refrain from posting photos and videos of cargo, locations, security, maintenance work or technical manuals. And don't post anything that could show your ship in a negative light - photos of celebrations (even those with non-alcoholic beers) could easily be misconstrued.
Respect your fellow crew in your photos and posts
Your fellow mariners will probably also play a starring role in your time at sea but do check whether they’re comfortable with you sharing pics or videos of them on social media. Remember that what may seem like a laugh to you, may not sit well with their cultural or religious background and could have implications for them back home.
If in any doubt, read the social media policy of any shipping companies you work for and follow up with HR if anything isn’t clear.
Finally, take an honest look at your social media use - are you spending too much time online and not enough interacting with your shipmates? If so, it might be time to log off - at least for a couple of hours! Logging off social media also means you'll have more time to find your next contract!
Martide's free mobile app for seafarers gives you instant access to all of our vacant jobs at sea no matter where in the world you are. Android users should download the app from Google Play and iPhone owners can get it from the Apple Store.