How to Make Social Media Work at Work

How to Make Social Media Work at Work

By: Evan Rodd, PayScale.com

Remember Friendster? I do, vaguely. It was one of the earliest social networking platforms that paved the way for MySpace (remember MySpace?) and eventually Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, SnapChat…

It’s clear that social media is here to stay. It has become a valuable tool for people all over the world to connect in a variety of different fashions.

Of course, the rise in social technology has had a tremendous impact on many businesses, and sparked an ongoing conversation about the pros and cons of transparency.

From marketing to PR to policies regarding employee conduct, social media is a component worth addressing. As technology allows people to connect in exciting ways, the ability to reach new customers or potential employees is now easier than ever, providing your company is utilizing the proper tools.

The Use of Social Media Policies
As social media trends continue to develop, many companies are starting to adopt a formal social media policy for employees. According to PayScale’s 2014 Compensation Best Practices Report, more than half of respondents reported having a formal social media policy in place.

Interestingly enough, many of these policies don’t forbid the use of social media at work, but rather provide guidelines for appropriate usage. In fact, 37 percent of respondents to PayScale’s Compensation Best Practices Report said they encouraged employee social media use in 2013. This number will surely continue to increase. 

As companies begin to recognize social media as a valuable tool to reach potential customers or make business connections, employee social media usage can actually be extremely beneficial.

Of course you don’t want your employees to spend all day on Facebook and Twitter, but if you’ve built a solid company culture, social media can allow employees to become brand ambassadors for your company.

Social Media Guidelines
According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) employees have the right to openly discuss work conditions on social media under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This may sound scary if you’re worried about employees posting negative opinions, but this shouldn’t be too much of a concern if you have faith in your company culture.

Your people are your assets, and when your people are excited about their jobs, they talk. Not only is this good for morale, but it can help you find potential hires who may have been unaware that your company is hiring.

Encourage employees to use their networks to alert possible candidates about open positions and you might find it easier to fill highly-skilled positions.

Social Media and Recruiting
In addition to employee social media use, many organizations are beginning to rely more heavily on social media to recruit or evaluate potential employees. 61 percent of all respondents to the Compensation Best Practices report said they used social media as a recruiting tool.

Many recruiters will set up unique social media profiles, or simply use their own to reach potential hires much faster. Not only does this speed up the recruiting process, it allows for a human component that can really make your organization stand out in the crowd.

Quality over Quantity
As a social media professional, I’m often asked to explain the benefits of social media for businesses, or to deconstruct the mythical land that lies beyond the shares and retweets.

Yes, the size of your audience is important, but not as important as the quality — take this into consideration when you draft your social media policy.

Encourage employees to share interesting news, company updates, and job postings. Your company’s unique benefits or generous compensation package garners more appeal when it’s discussed organically, and this type of transparency can be very appealing.