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Why Employees Should use Social Media at Work

Ben Norman

by Ben Norman on 22nd June 2012

Social MediaI have seen several cases recently debating that social media should or should not be used in the workplace and each debate raises interesting points for and against.

I have my own opinion on this, which I obviously believe to be right for us because of the industry we operate in. This will not be right for every company in every industry, but I think can be decided on by factoring in two things.

  • Industry
  • Job Role

Obviously if you are in a social industry as we are in (Digital Marketing), or are a social media agency it makes sense to encourage social media use at work as it is mutually beneficial for the company and employees. The employees help grow the brand and the brand in-turn helps to build the employees personal brand.

However, this won’t necessarily translate to all businesses or industries. For example if you were a contact lens company you would probably need people doing many tasks from packing boxes to inspecting contact lenses, in this case social media would probably detract from their roles and not benefit the company much. In this instance the company would not probably want to dedicate much time to it.

It all depends on the industry and what both parties will get out of it; it stands to reason that if there is little chance of the company seeing any benefit they will be less inclined to go with it.

Arguments for allowing the use of social media at work:

  1. Company gets more social mentions
  2. Employees get to network
  3. Increases their personal brand
  4. Increases the company brand in return
  5. Knowledge can be shared and answers found
  6. Deeper social penetration for PR and news depending on companies social reach (Brand plus all employee accounts)
  7. Increases job satisfaction
  8. Increases productivity

Arguments against using social media at work:

  1. Employees can waste time
  2. Detracts from their normal jobs
  3. Companies can be portrayed in a bad light by a negative employee
  4. Decreases productivity

Why it makes sense to me to allow it

I have seen companies try to limit and lock down social media in the work place and have seen and heard a few things happen:

  • Job satisfaction decreases
  • Toilet breaks increase in frequency and duration (hmm smart phones?)
  • Company misses out on a great opportunity to push and build its brand online

Employers fears

I think the biggest fear employers have is that the system will get abused and employees will do less work and be less productive. My question to them is why the hell did you hire people like that? If you don’t trust your employees to be adults and get work done, priorities etc seriously you need better employees.

I have found that we let people use all the different social media channels and for work and do I think that some personal surfing creeps in 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there of course I do. But I also know that when work needs to be done or something needs finishing they are there past clocking off time to do it.

It’s all about give and take, we encourage discussions in the office, both to do with work and personal conversations, as a result we get some great banter; social media is effectively about doing the same but on the Internet, so whats the difference?

I believe though by allowing all this we get a massive increase in workplace happiness and, when we have a question or want to push some content, we can all go out to all our networks and because we have time to build these relationships it’s more efficient.

Brand evangelists

To really get your brand out there online you need brand evangelists, people who really like what you do and will push your content / services, stand up for you, give you feedback, etc. And who better to be involved than the people who work for your company? They know their part of the process to a ‘T’ and, if you’re doing things right, love the company and what it stands for; to me these can be your best brand ambassadors.

What platforms??

To me I would say any of them, Twitter and Google plus are fantastic where Facebook perhaps doesn’t offer that much of a benefit to employers, but we find people share from our company page too so there’s still a benefit.

Like I said earlier, if you have the right people they won’t abuse the system but feel empowered to help build the company brand and get involved and at the same time they get to increase their personal brand in work time – a real win win.

Ownership

Social properties are both social and personal; and no company in my opinion can lay claim to them. The company just has to accept that they will get a benefit whilst the employee is with them. Also, if you keep people happy, they don’t tend to leave as much; whereas restrict them too much and they will just go somewhere more forward thinking that doesn’t.

The survey

I would like to get some data together to see what the general feeling is, so please fill it in.


What do you think??
Comment below and let me know what you think and please be sure to fill in the survey as I will be putting something together to get some cool stats.

Image Source

Social media concept in thumb up symbol via BigStock

Ben Norman

Ben Norman

CEO and Founder of Koozai, Ben Norman has extensive knowledge of search engine marketing. A regular writer on the subject, Ben’s first book, ‘Getting Noticed on Google’ has sold over 50,000 copies. Ben’s comprehensive knowledge is written in a straightforward and easily understandable way; be sure to read his sought after contributions on the future of Koozai.

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12 Comments

  • Jane Cragg 22nd June 2012

    Working in a digital industry, I believe if we as a company aren’t doing social media, there is something wrong! However I do agree that it really does depend upon the industry and what sort of job role the employee has as to the access they should have. I think there are a lot of companies out there who are learning that social can be useful and that they shouldn’t be as scared of it, but it is a big step for them and they need someone to hold their hand, make suggestions and offer advice – both for their company’s social media exposure and what they enable their employees to do.

    Reply to this comment

  • Ben Norman

    Ben Norman 22nd June 2012

    Hi Jane,

    Thanks for the comment and i agree outside the industry there will need to be some hand holding with it but the rewards can be well worth it.

    Im also really interested in how many people in our industry are allowed to use it at work and how restricted it is.

    It would also be great to hear what companies are doing to get it right.

    Reply to this comment

  • Matt Evans 28th June 2012

    Hi Ben,

    Cool post, really great to see an argument for both sides of Social Media usage.

    I’m a big fan of the more relaxed and creative workspace, especially working in an arm of Marketing – you’ve always got to add that extra level of creative thinking to everything you do, to offer the best campaigns. So to limit creativity is a real crime to employees in my opinion.

    Reply to this comment

    • Ben Norman

      Ben Norman 21st August 2012

      We find it a real asset but if definitely needs some boundaries to ensure both parties get the best out of it.

      Reply to this comment

  • Paul Madden 28th June 2012

    I think that banning, restricting or giving rules over the ownership of or posting in social media is toxic for any digital office.

    For me restrictions are short sighted and show a lack of trust in your employees.

    Reply to this comment

    • Ben Norman

      Ben Norman 21st August 2012

      Agreed in a digital office its a big mistake but I can see that certain restrictions could be required in certain industries and environments but ultimately you need to trust your employes.

      Reply to this comment

  • Mark Bennison 20th August 2012

    Large organisations that are not digitally-focused may find some employees will use of social media extensively as a distraction from their working activities, thus reducing productivity. The benefits to such businesses I believe can only be realised if the staff act professionally enough to use of social media appropriately. If an employee spends a quarter of their working day discussing trivial personal matters then I believe there is little benefit to the business. If instead they are blogging, creating content, projecting a strong personal brand, and link to their employer then the business would probably reap rewards that may outweigh the limitations.

    Reply to this comment

    • Ben Norman

      Ben Norman 21st August 2012

      As I said in the post you definitely need the right employees for it to work.

      I agree it needs to be mutually beneficial for it to work for both parties but i think given the right setup it can work in pretty much every industry.

      Reply to this comment

  • Paul 21st August 2012

    Hmmm whats your policy on this again?

    Reply to this comment

    • Ben Norman

      Ben Norman 22nd August 2012

      Hi Paul

      For me its simple, trust our employees and give them the freedom to use social media at work. Personal usage is allowed as long as it doesn’t affect their billable work.

      We have been doing it for a while and it is very beneficial for both parties.

      Reply to this comment

  • Paul Madden 22nd August 2012

    So people working with you no longer have to have Koozai_name as their handle?

    Reply to this comment

    • Ben Norman

      Ben Norman 23rd August 2012

      Hi Paul,

      Our guys and girls do use the Koozai_name layout as we have found it beneficial to both parties but people can have their own personal account as well if they want to.

      But everyones Koozai_name account is theirs and they are free to take it if they leave.

      Ultimately everyone here are brand ambassadors and we find that it comes across very well and makes it really clear who we are from the outset.

      Reply to this comment

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