I’m sure there are good reasons NOT to allow people in an organization to use social media in the work place. So far, I haven’t heard any. [good ones, I mean]. These are the most common comments I get from employers, when discussing Social Media in the workplace:
- Objection: “They [my employees] will spend all their time on Facebook, and won’t do any work!”Reply: Sure Facebook is addictive. The average Facebook user spends 23 hours per month on the site (excluding time spent on Facebook mobile applications). So what? Don’t your people have targets and KPI’s to meet? If they meet their targets, what do you care what else they do? Would you prefer a smoke brake instead?
- Objection: “What’s Twitter got to do with Business? What do I care what someone had for lunch??”Reply: Twitter is a social network. If the people in your social network (the people you chooseto follow) are just sharing arbitrary and un-interesting comments, you have a choice to un-follow them. Create a network of people who you could learn from, and engage with them. There are, of course, other reasons and purposes to use twitter: Market research, brand monitoring, customer service, keeping on top of industry news, just to name a few…With [the numbers change all the time, but as far as I know] 175 million Twitter accounts, choose the one that are relevant to your business/industry/interests, and follow their updates.
- Objection: Company Blog – “What do I have to write about?”or “who’d be interested in what I have to say?”Reply: a blog can be used in so many different ways. The same material you distribute through company newsletter [btw – how many people do you think actually read them?], can be put on the blog, and as frequently as you see fit. Your interpretation of your market, company updates [moving to new offices, new employees, new product or services, etc], industry updates [regulations, new players in the market, emerging companies who can effect your market, etc.] can all be used as blog posts. This could be a very effective way, not only to engage customers and potential customers with your company, but also employees, industry professionals, and people interested in your industry. Blogging is not really an option anymore, if you’d like to stay at the forefront of your profession/industry.
- Objection: LinkedIn – “if my employees are on LinkedIn, they’ll get poached by my competition!”Reply: In this case I have a few cards in my sleeve:a. There’s an old saying I quote often – “I’d rather train and educate my employees and they’d leave, than not train them and they’d stay”. Employees come and go. Researches over the years have shown that most employees leave because of their manager, than any other reason. It’s your job, as the manager/owner of the employee, to make them feel there’s no better place to work for, other than your company.b. It’s the biggest compliment for your company, to have other companies trying to steal your staff. Look at that this way, and make your employees so desirable to other companies!c. In Australia, there are currently over 2.2 Million linkedin accounts. This means, that in a workforce of just under 10 Million, that most white collar workers have a Linkedin account. It also mean, that there’s a good chance that your staff members already have a Linkedin account. Assuming your employees changed their current employment status to be associated with your company, it is in your interest to make sure their profiles are complete, up-to-date, and attractive. As a collective, they reflect on your company’s presence on LinkedIn.
- Objection: Brand Management: “What if my people write nasty things about me and my company?”
Reply: This is a real concern [understandably] for many companies. The thing is, people can [and do] say nasty things, criticize, make judgements on your company and/or you and/or your products, regardless of your participation in social media. If you don’t allow employees to use social media during work hours (or on work computers), they can always use their smartphones and their own ipads/laptops during and after work. Wouldn’t you like to be able to respond to a disgruntled employee or customer, before s/he goes on a rampage to bring you and your company down? [see http://vodafail.com/for example]. Vodafail – the musicalParticipating in these discussions, having your finger on the pulse [so to speak] will allow you to fight smaller fires, before they get out of control. Or, you can just shove your head in the sand… It’s up to you!
A subset of this, could be : “what if the employees mis-represent the company”
Reply: Putting a social media policy in place, as part of the employee hand book, and keeping the employees informed about what can and can’t be shared on the social networks, can save a lot of grief. Also needs to be kept in mind – your employees represent you and your company wherever they go, online and offline. Everyone need to be reminded about this, every now and again…