The two faces of social media in the workplace require policing and careful thought by HR and leaders alike. It’s proved to be of huge benefit to businesses when used correctly, but also the bane of HR departments when abused.
First, the potential issues which can occur:
Employee’s social updates can be a reputation management nightmare
With the potential scenario of every employee updating multiple social networks a number of times per day, it’s easy to see how quickly something can spread at an alarming rate. This is great when the content shared is a glowing review of your brand, but devastating when it’s a negative comment or remark.
Creating a clear, concise and fair social media usage policy is key to managing your brand reputation online. Employees should be aware of what is and isn’t appropriate and tolerated when sharing information concerning your business online.
In a recent online article, a law firm warns about the potential dangers of not implementing a social media policy – read more here.
Laying down unreasonable rules that employees will immediately take objection to is NOT the way to go about introducing a social media policy.
Care should be taken to ensure that employees understand and appreciate why there needs to be a policy in the first place, and why they need to abide by it for the good of the company.
Productivity can be adversely affected
According to research, 1 in 10 of us spends more time on the internet than actually working and on average we are interrupted once every 10 minutes by a social media notification.
Social media eats into time and productivity. Images, videos, memes and conversations are sometimes so engrossing that we don’t even realise we’ve spent large amounts of time browsing through them, to the detriment of everything else we could (and should) have been doing.
Monitoring and even blocking social media on work PCs, laptops and mobile devices is not the answer, as everyone has their own device that can be used instead.
Social media can affect employee relationships
How often have we all seen a comment conversation turn sour online? They often start off innocently enough, but by the end of the comment trail two people (or more) are no longer on speaking terms.
If the individuals involved are colleagues or need to collaborate in any way, then this lack of communication will probably affect their work and potentially your business.
You may think that most people are too sensible to get sucked into an online argument, that subsequently spills over into the real world, but it’s surprising how often it occurs.
How social media can benefit your brand:
Social media’s great for internal networking and collaboration
Used in the right way, social networks can be used to enhance how a workforce communicates, shares information and collaborates. This is especially important with the increase in employees who telecommute.
The ability to send files, have online meetings and make free calls over the internet are all activities that simply weren’t possible only a few years ago.
New employees can immediately engage with other colleagues from all over the business. Employees in different departments, locations and even in different countries can share and discuss content. Names can be put to faces, social events can be organised and initiatives can be created which all benefit employees, improve engagement and increase productivity.
From purpose built business networks such as Yammer to traditionally non-business platforms such as Google+, most can be utilised for application within a company environment with planning and strategy.
Employee advocacy is magnified through social sharing
Indeed, 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as social media, word of mouth, recommendation from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
If your employees are freely and by their own accord advocating your employer brand then people will listen. On the flip side of this, people can usually sniff out a staged recommendation as well!
If all of your employees are genuinely sharing great things about the company then that’s free marketing for you. There may well be certain employees who have a far greater social reach than your marketing team. Tapping into this resource and influence can be the free equivalent of spending thousands on marketing campaigns.
Different employees will have different interests and groups of online contacts whom they share information with. With such a diverse and potentially huge audience at your fingertips it’s not difficult to see the benefits of employee advocacy.
Customer care can be greatly enhanced
According to Buffer 80% of brands believe they offer ‘superior’ customer service, but only 8% of consumers agree. Getting customer care wrong can have a devastating effect on your business and many people will simply go elsewhere if they receive poor service.
43% of consumers feel that companies should utilise social media to resolve their issues.
Social media is now an expected channel by which customers can both contact and receive support from your brand. Unlike the phone or email, providing customer care over social networks quite often means that you’ll have an audience watching and examining how you perform.
This could be seen as a potentially dangerous situation but SHOULD be seen as an opportunity to prove how well your brand looks after its customers.
The ability to contact and receive a response from you instantly over social media is an attractive proposition that many people now use as their preferred medium.
If you use social networks correctly for customer care, then many people will see and appreciate your efforts and you’ll influence them in a positive way.
Employer branding’s a hot topic on social
There’s a lot of talk currently regarding employer branding online. There are many useful articles that explain strategies and how to improve your brand – and tools that can help. With all this talk, people are actively interested and on the look out for effective and genuine employer brands, especially potential talent.
If your brand’s known for being a great place to work and for actively engaging with employees then people will want to interact and work for you, creating an online talent pool of loyal ‘followers’.
With more people interested in researching employer branding online it’s a great opportunity for you to tap into this additional and cost effective genre of marketing. The more people that proactively approach your business for services, products or vacancy applications the better.
Talent attraction becomes much more effective
As mentioned above, applicants may well have been engaged with your brand for sometime before even applying for a role within the business. They’ll know all about you, will have already shown that they’re loyal to your brand and may even have shared industry content with you, or for you, displaying their area of expertise.
Recruitment costs can be reduced once you build a talent pool of engaged advocates – online and recruitment agency services can be reduced or eliminated. Solutions such as CIPHR iRecruit can integrate with social media to form part of your recruitment process, utilising applicant’s information shared on networks.
As well as attracting candidates to your brand using social media, it’s also very effective for researching applicants. Networks like LinkedIn will usually tell you most of what you need to know about an applicant’s employment history, interests, recommendations and personal projects.
Your prior research shouldn’t replace discussions on this topic during an interview, but can save you time and allow you to tailor your interview process/questions accordingly.
It may also unearth information of previous updates that may lead you to discount a candidate from the recruitment process, 34% of hiring managers have reported this to have been the case at least once in their recruitment processes.
Talent attraction is becoming increasingly challenging, which is why 60 percent of brands surveyed by Deloitte recently are updating or revamping their talent sourcing strategy. Part of this revamp will undoubtedly include the introduction of, or further utilisation of, social media.
If 60% of your competitors are improving their talent attraction processes it’s probably time your brand did too, or risk losing the battle for talent in the future.
Social media’s an effective way for employees to stay current with industry news
Allowing your employees to use social media can also provide an invaluable source of industry news. Social networks are often the first place that news is shared, if your employees have access to this resource then they’ll be up to date with all the current hot topics.
Encouraging this type of social learning can help your employees to become industry experts and grow their own influence online, therefore strengthening your employer branding.
There are numerous online tools which can reduce the amount of time required in order to source the latest news. Applications such as Tweetdeck for Twitter or RSS feed aggregators such as Feedly will provide a up to date stream of information that doesn’t require your employees to be distracted from their other duties for more than a few minutes.
Another alternative, which may be preferable if you prefer employees to read up on the latest news in their own time, is a ‘read later’ application such as Pocket or Evernote. These allow employees to quickly save articles in order to read them at their leisure at home or on the commute home.
Employees who are accessing social media can also help to maintain brand reputation, spotting where your business name has been mentioned and whether this is in a positive or negative light.
Social media’s a great way for leaders to engage with employees
Using social media to engage with employees can prove invaluable for leaders and managers. Sharing content, running initiatives and discussing topics are all activities that build trust and cohesion within a business.
Further information on interacting with your employees via social platforms can be found here.