Not so long ago a question for The Board was whether to allow access to social media in the workplace. Some companies chose to say; ‘yes – we trust our people, there are opportunities here, and normal management oversight applies.’ Some organizations chose to say; ‘yes, but we want to support our people with policy, procedures, training and monitoring’, and others simply said; ‘no, they’ll be on Facebook all day.’ Thankfully, since then the debate has moved on, with risks highlighted but strong social media performance helping to shape the fortunes of both consumer and B2B companies.
Of course bad things have happened, and they have attracted the press. Inappropriate Tweets have been sent from company accounts. Live messages have been posted as staff were sacked. Customer service issues found a life of their own on Facebook. Sensitive data has been lost and data protection rules have been ignored. Improper behavior between employees has been unceremoniously revealed. Company figureheads have been blackmailed over their Selfies. Personnel have been impersonated using clues left on social media and spoof emails have harvested employee usernames and passwords. But these headline grabbers mask the underlying trend that Social Media has arrived at the center of our mainstream business culture.
With four in five companies now using or planning to use social media in some way, according to the Harvard Business Review, questions over access have evolved from ‘whether to use social media?’ to ‘how to use social media?’ Against this backdrop an event hosted by Ketchum London on Thursday 26 September looked at how organizations can reap the benefits of social media to drive cooperation between employees, and increase brand advocacy, whilst avoiding unnecessary risks. Key points were:
- The case for social media is now overwhelming. Employees (especially millennials) expect social to be integral and integrated into the workplace. Most customers also expect your company to be social too and they’ll judge you on how you engage them in this way. There are also powerful advantages in terms of employee culture, knowledge sharing, productivity and staff engagement.
- But social media doesn’t automatically mean Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social Media comes in a massive variety of peculiar shapes and sizes. There are so many different tools and approaches from Yammer, to Flickr, to Google+, to Pinterest, to Instagram, to Vine, plus many more. Each has its own audiences, trajectory, purposes, potential, advantages and risks.
- Your employees are using social media anyway. Your employees are posting images of their workplace and personal pursuits. They are using location-based sites to “check in” at venues that reveal where your company operates. They are blogging about what it’s like to work at your headquarters and explaining their careers on Linkedin. For many, the line between work and social is blurred.
- So you need to understand the risks and opportunities. Even if you don’t plan to use social tools for direct business purposes, you need to understand the dynamics of having a socially equipped, but socially untrained, workforce operating at your sites. And if you were thinking of dismissing social for business use, take a look at the thousands of tools that might offer you a competitive advantage.
- You can then build a social media strategy aligned with your business imperatives. In a ‘social world’ what goes on in your organiation may not stay there, yet there are huge advantages to be found that could change how your company operates – so it’s important to teach all your employees about social, not just the ones responsible for speaking on behalf of the company. Social is now mainstream and it should be a central part of how you run your business.
Here’s the deck from our Social Success presentation too.
Image credit: www.business2community.com