The (non)cost of social media in the work environment.

It’s not often that I link to just one article, but I am today. A recent study from Silicon Replublic claims that allowing your staff to use social media costs the average company $65.000 a year. This article from Econsultancy, by Chris Lake, nicely points out some out the considerations that should be taken into account – and paints a different picture altogether.

In the article, they line out why companies should allow their employees to use social networks – within reason off course.

  1. Build a culture of trust: if you trust your employees, you trust that they do a good job. If this includes spending time on social networks, so be it. If you don’t trust them and “suspect” they’re wasting their time poking on Facebook, why did you hire them in the first place?
  2. Work and Social overlap: when using Twitter, be it the company or personal account, you will combine followers who follow you and/or the company. This means you reach a bigger audience by tweeting on both behalf, therefore raising awareness of the brand.
  3. Engagement: Chris Lake states that his employees are his biggest assets for communicating online. They are the human voice of the company and build a network of connections through social media.
  4. Provide social media training: have a simple, easy to understand media policy in which you explain how to use the social networks in regards to the company. Train the employees and encourage them to set up their own twitter accounts, blogs, networks, what have you. Chris pointed out one thing I really like, and fully agree with:  “Think about it: would you really want novice managing your brand’s Twitter account?”. Yet, it is something so many companies do – get the newbie to tweet and make up Facebook updates.
  5. Quid Pro Quo: Okay – they might be using social media during working hours – but how about the other way around? With the rise of smartphones, people are answering work emails at all hours of the day, retweeting company information and replying to Facebook questions after work. So, in return, should they claim those hours?
  6. Are you measuring the right thing?: What would the difference be between dictating your staff not to communicate online and allowing an open and free strategy towards social media use? How does it affect the bigger picture, your branding and your staff turnaround?

All in all, the article shows that when it comes to employees and social media – the best approach is to engage with your customers, and making sure you have a clear strategy available for your staff. And that’s not just if you’re in the business, it counts for every industry and every company.

Content has been based on and adapted from the original article, written by Chris Lake, which appeared on EConsultancy’s blog on August 16, 2011.

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