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4 Strategies for Allowing Staff to Use Social Media


By Heather Lutze

As many companies have already discovered, having a business presence in social-media communities such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can have a positive impact on their bottom line. Being able to connect with customers and prospects to build loyalty and community goes a long way in today’s world, and social-media marketing is changing the way customer relations takes place.

One of the questions businesses ask when implementing their social-media strategy is, “Do we open this up to the company?” Some argue that allowing employees to access social-media sites during the day will result in a productivity drain. They often encourage businesses to put website filters in place and ban it altogether.

However, Australian scientists at the University of Melbourne recently published an interesting study that found when employees take time to visit websites of personal interest, it provides them a mental break and actually increases their ability to concentrate. The scientists documented a 9 percent increase in productivity among their subjects. As they explained, “The activity helps keep the mind fresh and helps put you in a better place when you come back to working on a topic.”

In addition, people don’t work 100 percent of the time on what they’re assigned. They do other things such as get a snack, go to the restroom, talk to coworkers, surf the Web, etc. Essentially, they’re already giving themselves some diversion. The question is whether you want to offer a suitable distraction or let employees choose their own. Clearly, giving staff an acceptable pastime is the way to go, especially if doing so helps the company’s revenue.

With that said, you can’t simply allow everyone to post to the company’s social-media sites arbitrarily. You need to establish rules of engagement. The following suggestions will help.

Put Everything in Writing

Detail what is and isn’t allowed to happen on your social-media sites. For example, you may want to specify such things as not sharing proprietary or client information, keeping all posts positive, not divulging salary or benefit information, and not revealing any corporate intelligence.

What you allow or disallow is up to you and your specific company culture. Some companies decide they will talk about clients and customers (with the customer’s permission), while others feel talking about customers invites competitors to try and steal them. The main point for everyone to remember is if you wouldn’t post the information on your company website, don’t post it on a social-media site.

Make it clear in the document that if employees break any of the rules outlined, their job is in jeopardy. Additionally, reveal whether human resources is monitoring the e-mails, posts and tweets. Have each employee sign off on the social-media rules and place a copy in the employee file.

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