Twittering at Work? Unthinkable!

employee social media

Photo credit: Dean Shareski

I recently came across a blog post discussing whether or not most companies allow employees to engage in social media while at work.

New research from Robert Half Technology indicates that over half of chief information officers (CIOs) do not allow employees to visit social networking sites for any reason while they’re at work. This discussion cuts close to the bone for us, as we’ve just recently jumped into the social movement full-force, with our blog, Twitter, Facebook and Vimeo accounts.

So why are upper-level execs shirking the social media revolution? There are two very obvious reasons that stand out – neither of which are unfounded…

Loss of productivity: It’s hard for companies to justify employee-wide engagement when there’s concern that employees will abuse their newfound freedom and spend copious amounts of time surfing their personal accounts, banking online, getting a head start on holiday shopping, much less on Twitter and Facebook, or other social media sites and services.

Brand image vulnerability: There is a definite risk associated with opening the platform to all employees. They could potentially say something derogatory about a customer, a coworker, the brand in general, etc. They might let the public in on an announcement before its strategic launch.

So how do you address these liabilities? It all comes down to planning, setting goals and educating your participants. For instance, we created a best practices document for our employees. Not only does it caution them about what not to do, but we also provide tips and tools they should keep in mind when engaged in social media on behalf of our brand. We cover everything from Twitter, to Facebook, to blogging, and even provide a quick reference “golden rules” one-sheet document to post at their desks. These measures help us to keep things consistent across the board, and help set the tone for what we hope will be a successful endeavor.

Also keep in mind that it’s not necessary to open the flood gates without limitations. You can expand your participation pool slowly by inviting select employees and departments to participate, and then continue to grow it organically from there until you’ve reached company-wide participation.

So will a best practices document provide us with fool-proof protection against an undesirable situation? Absolutely not. But above all else, we see real value in opening the opportunity to our employees. Not only does it provide them with a real share of voice in their company brand, but it also allows us to be available to our customers across various channels.

How about you? Where do you stand on employee-wide social media participation? Is your company engaged? Are your employees engaged? Success stories? Horror stories? We want to know!

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