It seems mad doesn’t it. I genuinely thought we’d moved past the argument of whether social networking sites causes a loss of productivity in the workplace. Apparently not. A survey we carried out with our client HCL shows that 48% of companies still ban their staff from using Twitter and Facebook at work.
At the risk of being called a social media apologist, I should point out that I am very aware of the many pitfalls social networking can have for organisations. I have even in the past told some clients in no uncertain terms that social media isn’t for them. However what disturbs me the most about the findings is the draconian attitude to employees.
I entered the workforce about 10 years ago with my first job as an IT sales executive, cold-calling prospects to arrange ‘appointments’ for senior sales people. At the time, the web was on the cusp of becoming mainstream and there were only a couple of people in the office who had access to computers that could connect to the internet. The rest of us had to ask the supervisors before being allowed on to the web to research prospective clients.
The main reason given for this was that the web was too much of a distraction. While they had a point with some people (I’ll spare you the details of what some often spend time searching for but it involved a cup) what I really hated about the job was the attitude that junior people couldn’t be trusted to do what they were paid to do. Needless to say I didn’t stay there very long. Today it seems inconceivable that anyone in an IT sales role (or any sales role) could do their jobs effectively without having access to the web.
My point is that social media is now as ubiquitous as the web. To ban access to sites is not only impractical (we all have smartphones don’t you know) but also in many cases unproductive.
I’m sure most sensible people reading this blog will know this already but, for those still afraid of the dangers of social media, here are few tips that should help you get over your phobia;
1) Come up with some guidelines – Rather than telling employees what they can’t do it might be worth telling them what they can. You’d be surprised at what they come up with. Here’s an some example of some social media guidelines. Alternatively give us a call and we’ll help you come up with some of your own.
2) Spend some time listening – Unless your business is very very very dull there will be conversations online about what you do. Even if there aren’t any about your organisation directly there will almost certainly be some about your industry. Get to know what’s being said and how you can influence it. You never know what business opportunities might be awaiting you.
3) Plug social media into your marketing/PR at least as a starting point – Of course I would say this but if your marketing and PR efforts don’t have any social aspects to them chances are you’re being left behind. At the very least those who work in those departments should be given access as a priority. (In fact stop reading this and get them online NOW).
Hopefully you’re found these starting points useful. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.