So is it a good idea to have employees on social media, or not? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:
• Humanizes the Company
Letting employees post on social media about the company that they work for gives the company a voice – humanizing it to customers and future employees. Social media mentions are an informal form of communication that help to round out a brand’s persona and are often viewed as more authentic and trustworthy than official corporate communications.
• Creates a Connection with Employees
When employees are able to share with their friends and family about the company that they work for and the role that they have at the company, they feel a stronger connection with the company. This connection can make employees work harder, stay in their positions longer long and care more about the future success of their employer.
• Allows Greater Control
Many companies know that employees will be on social media regardless of whether or not they want them to be, so by creating an official social media policy it allows companies greater control. By having set guidelines that govern social media usage and spell out clear repercussions for breaching the policy, employers can protect their interests and safeguard their futures.
• Can Distract Employees
One of the biggest concerns with allowing social media usage in the workplace is that it will reduce employee motivation and result in distractions. This is a common concern among supervisors because anything that pulls employees away from their work is usually discouraged so it’s a hard sell to focus on the benefits that social media can have for the company in the long run.
• May Depict the Company Poorly
The other main concern with social media usage is how a company will be portrayed on social media. While corporate communications are often carefully planned and vetted, social media updates are done in real-time with little supervision and can depict a company in a way that is counter to the image that the company wants to present. This can seriously hurt a business's reputation and bottom line.
So what’s the verdict? Should employees be allowed on social media or not? As with any other element of business strategy, there's no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to social media. All companies have to make their own decisions on how they want to handle social media, taking into account the type of employees that they have and what the positive and negative implications could be for them. Whether or not you allow your employees to be on social media, it's very important to have a well articulated social media policy for all employees to be aware of and bound by. (Oh, and telling employees just to "use their best judgement" doesn't count because that can vary widely from person to person.) Spell out what is and isn't allowed specifically instead of just having employees speculating to avoid any snafus down the road.
Photo from Flickr (Jason Howie)
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!