Business leaders recognize that prospects and customers expect real-time interaction and fast reaction time from their companies. Many also recognize that social media tools can improve interactions with this external audience and are useful for monitoring brand online.
Most good leaders also recognize that employees interact with and influence customers in many ways, and they recognize the value of an engaged workforce for positive customer interactions.
However, many companies still prohibit or attempt to centralize control of social media use in the workplace, stifling the potential for an engaged workforce.
Three social media strategies
Social media policy seems to fall into one of three categories:
1. Lock it all up, lock it up!: Sometimes this policy arises from external requirements, as can happen in government workplaces.
But often this approach stems from a fear that employees will waste time on social media sites or use them to share proprietary information or make derogatory comments about the company. Or it may be due to an inability or unwillingness to provide education and promote the effective use of these powerful tools.
Whatever the reason, this approach can indicate a complete lack of trust in the workforce or a naivety about the access employees already have. Neither One of these is conducive to an engaged workforce!
two. Limit access with many rules: This approach attempts to capture every possible appropriate and inappropriate use of social media tools in an overwhelming rulebook, in an apparent effort to leave little to chance.
Or, as a modification of the previous approach, the use of social media tools is restricted to one or a few people, possibly in public relations or marketing or human resources, whose work is considered to include interaction with the public.
This approach does not recognize that all employees influence public and customer opinion about the company, regardless of job title. It also fails to recognize the value of an engaged workforce for positive customer interactions. For the workforce, it can feel as if they are being treated like little children who must be protected from themselves. Or worse, such an approach, like the first, may indicate a lack of confidence in the judgment of employees or an inability or unwillingness to participate in discussions and training.
3. Free access with the understanding that usage is monitored: Unlike the others, this approach offers guidance and trusts that employees use social media responsibly and accept the consequences of not doing so.
It recognizes the influence each employee has on customers and the public, and chooses to hope for the best, but it can certainly come with provision. “As a leadership team, if we feel that an individual conversation is required to clarify our standards, we will follow up with you directly.“.
This approach requires the best effort to communicate and educate managers and employees about the brand, the company, and the audience, and help them frame their choices about using social media in that context. But the potential benefits for the business are great too.
Rulebook Versus Guidelines: Which Social Media Policy Would You Prefer?
Think about it. Treat people like little children and they will act like little children. Treat them as responsible adults and they will interact with you. Who would you prefer to represent your company?
Instead of running away from the problem and limiting the reach of employees on the Internet, consider opening access to all social sites and tools, so that employees can play an active role in managing the company’s online presence. business.
1. Know what your culture and brand are about.
2. Be able to clearly express to your employees how they can help or hinder both the culture and the brand using social media.
3. Provide the time, training, support, and guidance to educate managers and employees on their options and responsibilities.
4. Have the resources to monitor and “correct course” when necessary.
5. Keep in mind that whether you have five employees or 500, they all represent your brand and company almost every minute of every day on and off social media.
Take advantage of the potential of social media and an engaged workforce!
Copyright 2011 Christine McLeod