Facebook and other social media websites can help companies increase their visibility in the community, reach more customers, keep abreast of industry trends, and more, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada, a bank solely dedicated to entrepreneurs.
Many employees are also using social media in their personal lives. Hence, it’s not surprising for workers to blur the lines between professional and personal use. Time Magazine contributor S. Kumar said, “There is no doubt that companies are within their rights to expect compliance with some common-sense social media etiquette."
However, Kumar pointed out that there is a difference between requesting employees to exercise good judgment and scrutinizing every single tweet. In fact, extreme monitoring of social media can deteriorate trust between companies and their workers and compromise loyalty.
Social Media Use In the Workplace (2016)
Cliff Lampe and Nicole B. Ellison of Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank, found that employees use social media to work to take a mental break from work (34%), connect with friends and family at work (27%), make or support professional connections (24%), get information that helps solve problems at work (20%), and build or strengthen relationships with colleagues (17%).
Other reasons for using social media at work included learning about someone they work with (17%), asking work-related questions of people outside their organization (12%), and asking work-related questions inside their organization. Workers aged 18-29 have found information on social media that improved their opinion of a colleague (23%) compared to those aged 30-49 (12%) and 50-64 (9%) years. Employees aged 18-29 have also discovered information that social media lowered their opinion of a colleague (29%) versus those aged 30-49 (16%) and 50-64 (6%).
Meanwhile, workers whose employers have an at-work social media policy were less likely to use social media for personal reasons while working. For example, only 30% of those who have an at-work social media policy use social media to take a mental break (versus 40% who don’t have an at-work social media policy), connect with friends and family at work (20% versus 35%), and get information that helps solve problems at work (16% versus 25%).
Only 19% of workers reported using Facebook for work-related purposes, as well as LinkedIn (14%) and Twitter (3%). 9% use a social media tool provided by their employer for work-related purposes while 5% use social media platforms other than the ones listed above for work.
Among those who use at least one social media tool for job-related purposes, 78% of respondents said social media is useful for networking or finding new job opportunities. Other reasons cited by the respondents were useful for staying in touch with others in their field (71%), connecting with experts (56%), getting to know their colleagues on a personal basis (51%), and finding information they need to do their job.
Regarding the impact of using social media on their job performance, 56% of workers who use social media for work-related purposes agreed that it distracts them from the work they need to do, with 30% answering “strongly agree.” Some 42% of participants said social media is a distraction. 51% agreed that using social media at work lets them see too much information about their colleagues versus 47% of those who disagreed.
What are the Advantages of Using Social Media?
According to Shannon Gausepohl, content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement on average and gets re-shared 25 times more frequently than content shared by brand channels. Their employees can be the biggest promoters if companies formulate a proper strategy. However, this also requires employers to exercise prudence when monitoring social media content to prevent private and sensitive information from being shared.
2. Company Morale
Organizations can consider creating a social media platform for company announcements, training, or gathering feedback rather than spending time and energy prohibiting social media. Creative marketing director Amy Dagliano explained, “The resources they utilize, the knowledge they share, and the connections they make socially will support and complement the work they are delivering.”
3. Relationships With Clients
Anthony Jeanatta said using social media at work helps employees forge professional relationships with people outside of the organization. These relationships can lead to opportunities that would have been previously unavailable. Additionally, strengthening professional relationships can help companies have a bigger client base.
How to Create A Social Media Policy
Karin Eldor of job search website Monster reminded companies that the posts they write and share on social media cannot be permanently erased if it is deleted. For example, even if an employee wrote a regrettable status update and deleted it a few minutes later, there’s a possibility that someone will screenshot that post and circulate it online.
If companies want to create a social media policy, it can be distributed as a document to every employee as part of their onboarding or training or as a new company policy for current employees. The document can also emphasize that the distribution of photos of upcoming product releases and the like are prohibited.
Although anyone can post whatever they want on their personal social media accounts, the document should remind them that the content they share on the platform represents their own professional brand. Some employees also add a legal disclaimer on their bio, but it’s not enough to protect them if they rant about their boss or tarnish the company’s reputation or brand for being passed for a promotion, for example.
Workplace conflicts and frustrations should stay offline. Harmless posts like “What a horrible week at work” can invite negativity in the company. Likewise, workers should be mindful of revealing confidential information or having discussions that could jeopardize the company’s brand. Content created on behalf of the company should be in line with its marketing and public relations practices and objectives.
If a company’s page received an inquiry, it is recommended to consult the superiors before answering it. An at-work social media policy should also ensure that employees limit their personal use of social media when working. Employees should also keep personal and business contacts and pages separate. Employers are encouraged to change all social media passwords if an employee resigns or is let go to prevent the latter from hacking. Companies should make sure that the former employee does not have access to their social media channels.
Using social media at work can be beneficial as it can enable companies to have a larger client base and build relationships with other professionals. However, social media can be a source of distraction to employees, hampering productivity and compromising job performance. If a company decides to encourage the use of social media, it can create a policy that details the dos and don'ts of using social media for personal and business purposes.