Yes, Mr. CEO – Social Media is Your Friend

by on December 6, 2010

I’ve been asked by several companies to speak to their PR/marketing department about their respective social media presences. As much as I’d love to take them up on the offers, though, I thought I’d at least take the time to figure out the tangible problems they’re having.

After talking to a few clients, and asking around social media circles I was certain about some of the fears CEO’s face when dealing with employees and social media. Of course, the next step after that is finding out how to address those problems.

Now, we already know the benefits of using social media in the work place, especially if you want to brand your company with “progressive thinking”. Social media is part of the wonderful evolution happening online, and you either get it or get left behind. Transparency is king and content development, relationship building and user engagement can happen in 140 characters or less.

The benefits of social media are pretty obvious: you have another channel to expand on market research. You can brand yourself; here’s a way to add the human touch factor, the human element, the personable finish. Let’s not forget the reputation you garner by writing excellent posts, responding to questions and having intelligent conversations.

Serious Thoughts by Serious CEOs on Social Media

So yeah, yeah, it all sounds good. 140 character conversations turn into 500 new customers, company advocates and so on… fantastic ROI. Yet, the CEOs have to think about other things as well. Questions come to mind like:

  • What about employee productivity?
  • What about issues with account hacking?
  • What about security?
  • What about unhappy ex-employees?

Of course, we’ve all heard of the havoc on intern can cause your reputation, legal liability and other customer relation nightmares…I get it, I really do.

Many businesses are faced with a gigantic dilemma. CEOs and other top-level bigwigs yearn to jump on the social media bandwagon for the good of their company. Yet, the concern over possible negative repercussions is legitimate. For instance, whether a company infrastructure is based on a Mac, PC or Linux system, every online minute is a possible exposure to security threats.

Whether you decide to ban social media is up to you. However, if you ban social networking due to security risks, you might as well ban the Internet as well. You can set limits and use restrictions – some companies have chosen this route – or allow unmonitored access.

Tips for Social Networking Sites and CEOs

Rather than block the Internet, information and intelligence are the best protection against security leaks and more. This is not to say your employees would give out sensitive information on purpose, but social networks push people to share everything about themselves. They may unwittingly give important information away.

#1: Give Set Times for Social Networking

Before your employees start work, after they’re finished with work, on breaks or during lunch, allow them access to social networking sites. With web filtering software, you can set time-based access to specific sites.

#2: Educate your Employees

Don’t let your employees stay in the dark; knowledge is too important. Let them know what can cause security issues. If need be, have a security systems expert come in. Make sure they know clicking on a link can cause malware to download on their machine. Some popups automatically download a virus – even if you click on the “x” to close it down. Keep your staff educated!

#3: Set Policies

What can your employees do during office hours? Can they talk about their personal life on Twitter? Do you expect them to stay focused on business even during lunch on social sites? Lay out your policies for online security and usage. Make sure your employees sign these policies and know what the disciplinary action will be if the policies aren’t followed.

While thousands, maybe millions, of business owners struggle to decide whether they should implement social media or not, millions of others have already done so. Why?

Take it from me Mr. CEO social media isn’t just a fad, as some seem to think. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are some of the fastest growing sites – ever. In fact, once you set your mind to finally joining the world of social media, you’ll find out just how much business growth is possible… in 140 characters or less.



{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerrick December 27, 2010 at 12:16 am

If company would like them to put more effort in social network then company do allow them to access social network anytime but with limit activities. Because employees may take chance to ply Facebook game such as flash game. But only active person in social network will operate well in social media because they do know user behavior in social media and how to trap them to stay with you as friends

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Guest December 16, 2010 at 12:24 am

Social media sites in my own opinion have a great disadvantage in the workplace. Concentration is needed in work, so it is advisable to prohibit any use of social media sites. It is time consuming and have an effect in the performance of the workers.

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JRPittman December 21, 2010 at 10:31 am

@guest – Thanks for comment. It sounds like a lack of trust in employees, though. If your employees are adult enough to hold down a job, aren’t they adult enough to be circumspect about when they use social media sites? And how do you prohibit use, since you can reach social media sites on pretty much any cell phone? Do you then confiscate cell phones during the hours of 9 to 5?

If prohibiting the use of social media sites is something you feel needs to be done, I guess the question is, how would you really go about doing it? What steps would you be willing to take to keep the prohibition active?

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Doc Sheldon December 7, 2010 at 8:43 am

Good points, Gabriella.

Security is obviously a major concern, but I’ve found that a sharp IT person, coupled with some intelligent policies and open internal communication can mitigate it greatly.

One point that I’d mention is that remarkably, most companies think they know what their customers’ issues with them are, but are often off base. As a consultant, I usually find it more difficult to identify the true issues (and get the client to recognize them) than to implement a plan to correct them. Interaction with customers is often the best tool to get to the bottom of those questions.

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Gabriella December 9, 2010 at 2:37 am

Bing, Bing, Bing, Doc you win what’s behind door #1. It department & yes communicate with your customers. I guess that’s what happens when you get old like me… LOL you “start” becoming wise :*

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Virtual Server December 6, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Using social media in the office have disadvantages and advantages. It’s on how you handle it. You clearly pointed out some ways on social media restrictions and I totally agree with what you’ve said. Educating employees is a good thing to do.

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Jenny Stradling December 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I agree with John, said almost exactly what I was thinking. Moving into 2011 its absolutely imperative you have a strong online presence across the popular social media channels, if you don’t, you’re already behind the times.

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Gabriella December 9, 2010 at 2:35 am

Hey Jenny, I get it… but you have to understand these CEO’s aren’t being bullies they are simply trying to protect their infrastructure. Granted they need a better IT department that could be the solution :)

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John December 6, 2010 at 9:45 am

As ubiquitous as social media sites are now a days it is surprising to me that some CEOs are still in the dark about how social media can help their business grow. I agree, banning social media because of security risks you might as well ban the internet altogether too. You also gave some great tips for implementing restrictions for social networking sites. Educating your employees on potential security risks is definitely the way to go.

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