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Social Media and the workplace: friend or foe?

By partnersinhr, Dec 7 2015 01:15PM


Although it hasn’t been around for long, social media has become such an integral part of our lives that it’s almost impossible to remember life before it - how on earth did we used to manage not being able to show that person we met down the pub once what we’re about to have for lunch?!


Regardless of what they post and share in their personal time, the question of whether social media has a positive impact in the workplace tends to divide people into two camps: those who argue that it’s “got nothing to do with work, that’s why it’s called social media”; and those who realise that having an online social presence can be a powerful business tool.


For business leaders, it’s likely that your competitors already have accounts on the key social media platforms - such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest - which means you should certainly be on them, too. And there’s no escaping the fact that your employees are active on these channels (although hopefully not when they’re supposed to be working), not to mention the growing number of younger workers expecting to use it in their professional roles.


To help you decide whether social media is a friend or an enemy to your business, let’s take a look at what’s good about it, and possible areas for concern.


The benefits of social media


Arguably, the best thing about social media is the huge marketing opportunity that it represents. No other channel provides such an affordable and easy-to-use gateway to a global audience; get your content right, and there’s no limit to the brand awareness you can raise.


It’s also one of the most engaging marketing channels out there, sparking two-way conversations with your clients and customers in real time. From product launches to company news, competitions, and receiving feedback, social media allows you to create and maintain meaningful brand-consumer relationships.


From an HR perspective, social media can also be a useful tool when it comes to recruitment and engagement, particularly if you harness your employees to act as brand ambassadors on their own social pages. It can also be used within the company to boost communication and collaboration - for example, the new ‘Facebook at Work’, which acts as a separate professional network for co-workers’ eyes only.


Things to be aware of


The instantaneous, far-reaching nature of social media means that it can be a PR minefield, with corporate reputations being damaged in a matter of hours.


And we’re not just talking about what’s said on your corporate social pages; your staff could very well be talking about your company on their own pages, or perhaps sharing and posting content that goes against your company values. One misguided tweet from an employee’s personal Twitter account can cause untold damage. Not only that, but personal tweets about colleagues could be viewed as bullying, discrimination or harassment in the workplace (whether it’s happening at work or not) – something that opens up a whole new can of worms.


Unfortunately, even the businesses that embrace social media often fail to create a unified strategy that makes the rules, regulations and expectations clear to their employees.


They also have the delicate juggling act of respecting their employees and treating them fairly, while at the same time protecting their reputation. For example, just because a member of staff makes inappropriate comments about the company on their personal Facebook page, doesn’t mean you the right to dismiss them - it all depends on your social media policy, the privacy settings on their account and other mitigating factors, such as their previous history at the company and the extent of perceived damage to the company’s reputation.


Whether you like it or not, social media is no longer an issue that business leaders and managers can afford to ignore. The only real solution is to establish clear boundaries and guidelines with a well thought-out social media policy, so that if/when something does go wrong, you will know what action to take.


Luckily for you, that’s something that we can help with. By outsourcing your HR needs to the experts, you will receive a personalised, tailor-made service that suits your specific requirements and individual business needs. Contact us to talk more.



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