Does Social media Work…At Work?

The use of social media resources in the workplace is as vexing as it is exciting. On the one hand, the use of social media for external communications, personal use, or marketing purposes opens the door to an array of compliance and logistical nightmares. The instantaneous nature of social media (as we’ve seen in class) makes companies vulnerable to the whimsy of an individual rogue employee or a well-meaning individual who simply doesn’t understand the potential repercussions of social content. On the other hand, social media tools can be used effectively not only to engage potential employees, consumers, partners, or clients, but also as an internal tool to open new channels communication between divisions, hierarchies, or collaborators.

In 2016, the importance of a carefully crafted social media policy that reflects the business goals of the company is paramount to success. For instance, a corporation that has strict privacy regulations such as a financial institution will likely have to monitor, screen, or inhibit employee posts in order to protect valuable customer information. In contrast, a music publishing firm will likely want to have a less onerous policy that encourages employees and artists themselves to drive reach and engagement with fans in order to drive sales. In both cases, the policy needs to be clearly articulated as it relates to the business goals and overall corporate strategy of the company.

Another way companies should consider organizing their social media strategy is at three discrete levels: individual, team, and organizational. Depending on the nature of the work, the objectives of the company, and the stratification/dispersion of the employees, it is worth considering how social media, both internal and external, might benefit the company. For instance, would an internal social media tool help connect sales teams in different regions to share best practices? Could the marketing department benefit from using a given platform to market a new or existing product? Could an individual help drive sales by tapping into his or her social media connections? Relative to the business goals of the firm, these three levels can provide useful delineations when creating a corporate social media policy.

While there are still many questions surrounding the implementation of social media practices in the workplace, it certainly pays to be thoughtful. Businesses may have much to gain from the multitude of ways to implement a successful social media policy. Yet, in other instances it may behoove the firm to abstain altogether in certain circumstances. That is why I selected the below Emoji to best describe my attitude towards social media at work:

For companies- think about the competitive landscape, industry regulations, customer segments, and marketing strategies to determine the right platforms to engage both internally and outwardly.

For teams- consider the ways in which collaboration and relationship building can occur in ways that stimulate productivity and transferring best practices.

For individuals- decide how you can benefit from either growing your connections throughout the company or leveraging your outside network to improve workplace performance.

These are certainly exciting times for social media managers, and I am personally hopeful about the myriad possibilities for social media in the workplace!