How SHOULD Employees Use Social Media?

Balance Out the Can't with the Can

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[ Social Media]

A recent study found that 54% of businesses prohibit employee social media use completely. There are valid arguments supporting both sides of this debate. We’ve seen quite a few news stories in recent months about social media policies coming to light. We’ve seen the topic discussed with regards to the news industry, sports leagues, and more recently, movie studios.

Fears exist. Questions. "How are my employees going to screw things up out there?" The result often ends up coming in the form of strict social media policies that severely limit interactions and engagement. "Here are the things that you can’t do."

What fears do you have involving employee social media use?
Share your thoughts.

In many cases, these rules are very justified. Amber Naslund made a very good point in an interview with WebProNews at BlogWorld this past weekend though. If you’re going to give employees guidelines and tell them how they should not be using social media, you should try balancing that by giving them some ways that they should use it.

In the long run it comes down to what your goals are for social media use, and those goals should influence your policies. When you figure your goals out, you should be able to figure out how you want employees to proceed.

You should also use those goals to influence the tools you use to accomplish them. Wasted time is one of the most common reasons companies prohibit employee social media use. Wasted time can be minimized when you plan for specific goals. There are tons of social networks and related tools available, but that doesn’t mean that you have to use them all. Try to determine which ones will most effectively help you accomplish what you are trying to do, whether that be push out information, drive traffic, provide customer service, etc.

When you can clearly establish your goals and the tools you want to use to accomplish them, it should be easier to clearly tell employees what they can be doing with those tools to help accomplish those goals. If you’ve picked a tool, you must have a reason for doing so. Share that reason in the policy. Make employees understand. "If you CAN use this tool this way, we CAN meet our goal of ____."

If this sounds vague, that’s because different industries have different goals. Different businesses within the same industry have different goals.

What are your goals for business social media? Discuss here.

How SHOULD Employees Use Social Media?
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  • Vinita

    Besides setting up of goals and all, the teams engaged for social media campaigns should not be as big as for other online marketing campaigns. The Team Leads or the Account Leads should be able to keep a close eye upon the work being done by team members, so as to avoid personal access avoiding wastage of time.

  • Sachin

    My goal is to generate huge traffic from social media to my website. I have a website for soccer & for this i would like to generate 50K monthly unique visitors.

    What should be my first step in social media & what tools & resources i should use to increase the traffic?

    Your suggestions will be appreciated.


  • http://myalmanac.blog.ca/ R. Hiebert

    An employer needs to minimize IT risks and employers increase this expense if his employees use his system to socialize online. If there would be a way to expand sales and accounts to increase revenue, then the employer should encourage his employees to enjoy themselves as long the time they spend socializing produces an increase in sales and production.

  • http://www.surveymoney.x10hosting.com Free Fun Surveys

    At work places permitting the employees for social media use is a real threat for the company’s valuable data stored in the systems. Hackers easily enter into the network using the social media websites. If the security is ensured by all means then we can think about the use of social media at work place. The best suggestion would be allocating a separate system with dedicated network connection, which would solve this issue. Probably this secured arrangement may bring happiness among employees.

  • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

    Any size business has to be very careful when appointing someone to be part of the social media team. Guidelines need to be in place but those can’t protect a business from a bad seed.

    Especially when it comes to employees commenting on other companies.. talk about a can of worms… lawsuits are now based on 140 text of comments or less!

    Follow Snerdey on Twitter!

  • http://www.marketsitepro.com Nick

    Companies want to pay employees for work related activities. Pretty simple. Most companies dont object to employees using their facilities, when it is on their time. Most companies will look the other way if there is no abuse of company resources, eg using the telephone, etc. The problem comes when those few employees make it a daily habit, but this is true of most things. I have seen some employees texting on their cell phones every 10 minutes throughout the day, like it is no big deal. Employers dont want to be police and watch the habits of every employee. This is where is it easier to ban it completely, and then look the other way if it is not being abused.

  • http://www.kmpfurniture.com Rafael Montilla

    Companies’ owners do not know the power of Social Media.

    Social Media can bring a lot of customers, I am agree with R. Hiebert.

    Prohibiting employee from using social media is not a smart way.

  • Guest

    Everyone seems to be YES, it’s the best thing ever, or NO, it’s a time waster. The best way to use social media in the workplace seems to be to restrict company posts to the marketing department, maybe even just one person. Social media can be used to give your company a stronger online presence, to create a brand personality, and to keep connected to your customers by being visually in front of them on a regular basis (“out of sight, out of mind”).

    Of course allowing all employees to surf their social network for eight hours a day instead of working isn’t doing anything for the company. That type of thing is going to have to be used in moderation. In some working environments there may be just an unspoken rule, in other environments formal rules may need to be established in the case of abuse of privilege by employees.

    In the very near future (if not already in some offices), employees updating their facebook status or tweeting is going to be as common as employees checking their personal email from their work computer or reading a text message. Remember that we can’t have progress without change. If you aren’t getting on the social media bandwagon, rest assured that your competitors are and you’ll regret it later on. Nearly every major large corporation has a twitter account. Do a search for anything you can think of. That should give us some indication of how many companies are going in the “social media” direction as a part of their marketing plans.

  • Guest

    Let’s be realistic here… Unless the person’s job is the company’s web evangelist or they are on a marketing team incorporating social media, employees are not going to use social media to move their company forward. They are going to use social media tools to waste time for which their employer is paying them. I don’t care if you put guidelines in place, the majority of employees will not follow the rules. You may not agree, but then you probably never owned a business or dealt with H.R. issues involving employees.

    Unless the person’s job description includes using social media to benefit the company, your firewall policy should shut down social media to all other computers, except for maybe at lunch time and after business hours. There are already enough distractions to keep employees from working a “true” 8 hour work day. Regardless of the business, employee salaries, workman’s compensation and unemployment expenses add up to the highest outlay of cash by any employer.

  • Larry Hearold

    As an employer I pay my employees to come to work on time and put in a productive days work. Not BS with family and friends on Twitter or Facebook. My employee handbook explicitly states that for a first offense they get a letter in their file. Second offense and thay ar out the door. the PCs in my office are there for a specific reason and it is NOT for private use of my employees. If they don’t like it then find employment elsewhere. The same thing applies to office phones, fax machines, copiers, etc. They are MY property and I set the rules for their use. Emergencies are handled as such but for Joe’s wife to call hime to complain thatthe doorbell is not working is out of the question! The amount of malware that can be introduced into a company’y LAN through social media sites is astounding and limiting or forbidding the use of such sites is essential for the security of information on my conmpay’s network.

  • Michaelc
  • http://www.bestbuys4business.com Michelle Pavel

    Isn’t it widely said that any publicity is good publicity, even if it’s bad. Not that I agree with that entirely, because we probably all know of situations where the bad publicity did a lot of damage to a person’s or company’s reputation.

    You can’t stop your employees signing up to social media on their time (ie. at home), so if they are going to bag the company they can do it in many forms.

    The question was ‘How are my employees going to screw things up out there? I would say, if things turn nasty they could easily screw it up by putting up their opinion about how they feel about the company, their boss, their colleagues, etc. It wouldn’t make a difference if they had access to social media at work because they can access social media from anywhere.

    Hey, and your customers could do the same thing. Trick is to keep everyone happy and all will be sweet (good luck with that one).

    If social media is the way forward for your business, offer your employees a bonus for bringing in new business (honestly) and you may find yourself worrying about how you are going to manage all your new customers, rather than the off chance of bad publicity.

  • http://str82u.net Str82u Networks

    I had this very thing come up from staff that thought they were doing good by promoting our business, which is really SEO, but only for ourselves. Horrified to find out that a hundred or so links had gone out for OTHER keywords, it was really my fault because, even though people working here know what we do, but not how it’s done. In other fields, this could cause misunderstandings or even something as serious as a purposful smear campaign.

    I remember signing nondisclosureaggreements aand media awarneness courses on how to handle outsider questions, that is probably the safest thing to do without restricting computer access. Make sure folks know what is appropriate. Another suggestion before mine was engage the employees by giving them a goal that CAN be used in reference to work leaving everything else off the table.

    Thanks for the good info WPN,
    Keep it Str8!

  • http://www.cl5.co.uk John CL5

    Some of the draconian responses to the use of social media provide an interesting glimpse at the state of employee/employer relationships. They also speak volumes of the big understanding gap in terms of value of social media.

    Time-wasting, slack employees and work directives is surely off-topic in an SEO forum. It’s right for small to medium sized businesses to use HR to manage these problems, and social media is just one part of this mix – in the same way I wouldn’t expect our people to be using their company mobiles to make premium rate entz calls.

    But on the other hand, our company actually employs staff full-time to manage our client and agency profiles on the web, because we have seen the impact on both brand reputation, brand value and sales that a carefully structured social media programme achieves.

    I’d guess many of the problems businesses run into is a consequence of failing to see just how mainstream and powerful social media is – and that many junior staff may well have something to teach them in this respect.

  • http://www.webspy.com Internet Monitoring Company Employee

    I work for a company that attempts to help people to monitor and report on their Internet usage. For some parts of the world, bandwidth is charged at exorbitant rates, so some sort of safeguards and watchfulness is required from a pure cost standpoint.

    I feel it is unreasonable, however, to expect employees to work without some sort of social interaction, especially in a client-facing role. Humans are social creatures and being social stimulates all sorts of wonderful brain activity; production CAN be increased as long as employees understand what REASONABLE use of the Internet entails.

    More often than not, this distinction is not explained or understood. We all have telephones on or desk these days, but it would be unthinkable for us as employees to spend all day chatting to our wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends. Phone bills are itemized, and web browsing should be too.

    While this may come across as a plug for our products, it is far more than that. I work for this company because I truly believe that blocking defeats the purpose and the spirit of the Internet in general. I’ve dealt with companies that lock down everything except for 50 sites. I’ve also dealt with companies that perform no monitoring, reporting, or any such user governance. Both forms of policies (if you can call the latter example a policy) are extreme and do no good in the long term.

    But we have found the majority consensus of our customer base to be alike: they return to us and tell us that their bandwidth usage, and their employee browsing habits have all changed for the better when their employees have it explained to them that before work, after work and during lunch, no one really cares what you do or where you go – within reason (and seriously, browsing for porn at work is unbelievably stupid) – and that everything you say and do online bears some reflection back to your employer.

    Education always triumphs over draconian measures. Rather than sneer at your userbase with some ideological feeling of moral superiority, educate and explain to them what the consequences of their browsing habits are. Ultimately, they will still appreciate their pay cheque arriving and will avoid the chance of jeapordizing such things. Inserting Internet usage policies into contracts protects the employer and informs the employee exactly where he stands.

    And if you feel like checking out our products, please do :)

  • http://www.sweetbusinesses.com Teasastips

    This is a double edged sword…here’s the reason: social media is certainly a great business tool when used in the proper environment. However, if your customer service rep is on Facebook or Twitter than they are serving your customers, everyone loses. Customers complain they received poor non-attentive service from your company, and the employee wastes money for the company. Access to social media needs to be monitored, if not controlled so as it does not affect work hours.

  • http://www.ukprestige.co.uk prestige car hire

    Excellent video… my ain to to create as much taffic as possible coming to my website. I currently have over 150 hits on my site and planning on increasing this on a monthly basis..

    Any advice would be appricated.


  • http://modern-bed-room-furniture.blogspot.com/ Modern H

    THank you

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