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3 Tips to Handling Social Media Use for Employees

Social media has proven itself by now to be more than just a fad. Building relationships is the number one commodity in today's profersional society. But should you allow it in your business?

Throughout my time as a business woman, which has been more years than I care to count, I’ve been asked by several companies to speak to their PR/marketing department about their respective social media presences. Now, we all know the benefits of using social media, especially if you want to brand your company as being open, friendly and accessible. You have an open market for reaching the masses (aka your potential customers and clients). You have an open window for free market research. You have customers who are willing and able to communicate with you to tell you how your company did. Transparency is key, yes?

In fact, transparency is the top buzzword of clients and businesses alike. How do your business processes work? What about your shipping policy? Do you do anything special with your proceeds? Sharing the answers to these questions with potential customers, whether in a news feed somewhere, on social media or in blog posts, can make a huge difference in how your company is perceived.

However, many upper management types worry that social media may have a dark side. Sure, so 140 character conversations turn into 500 new customers, company advocates and so on. Fantastic ROI, yeah? Yeah. But then there’s questions 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 one upset intern can cause your reputation, legal liability and other customer relation nightmares. Many companies incorporated social media with a proverbial arm twisted behind their backs. They did it, but they weren’t happy about it.

To be honest, the concerns 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 use while your employees are on the clock is up to you. However, if you ban social networking due to security risks, you might as well ban the Internet as well. Instead, consider the options. You can set limits and use restrictions, some companies have chosen this route, or allow unmonitored access.

3 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. Here are three ways to protect your company and still let your employees have their freedom.

#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.

Final Thoughts

Make sure your employees sign these policies and know what the disciplinary action will be if the policies aren’t followed. While some business owners still struggle to decide whether (and how) they should implement social media, millions of others have already done so. Why?

Social media has proven itself by now to be more than just a fad. Building relationships is the number one commodity in today’s profersional society. 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.

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6 Responses

  1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. @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?

  3. 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 :*

  4. 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.

    1. 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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