By: Sophie Lizard
Research has shown, employees using social media at work cost U.S. businesses an average of $4,500 per employee per year. Is that money your business can afford to lose?
You see several different strategies regarding employee social media use, from companies that block access to social media sites in the workplace right through to those that encourage employees to tweet on the job. So what's the right strategy for your company?
Employee Evangelism Online
Enthusiastic employees who genuinely love their job can be a huge benefit to you via their social media accounts. Not only do you have the option of making them official representatives through the company's social profiles. Even if you don't make it part of their contract they will still sing the company's praises through their personal accounts.
One thing watch out for is where those two overlap.
An employee's personal account doesn't belong to the company, so be wary of creating a situation where an employee uses their personal account to represent the business. If that employee moves on and takes their personal profiles with them, you stand to lose any followers they've built up.
Is It a Big Waste of Time?
If your employees are distracted by incoming social media updates, productivity falls. It's not just the time spent reading and responding to social media friends that's wasted; the lost focus means that it can easily take 20 minutes or more to get back on track with work.
With 95 million tweets per day flying around the internet, there is potential for a lot of distraction . No wonder some businesses simply block all access to social media... but all that achieves is to push hardcore social media lovers into using their own mobile device and data allowance to sneak onto social networks instead.
There's an interesting flip side too: some studies have found that taking short social media breaks at work can actually boost productivity by giving your brain a change of scenery!
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What's Your Reputation?
One big concern for many businesses is that an employee may make a social media slip-up like Tweeting negative comments about a customer.
Sure, a lot of Twitter users say in their bio that "opinions are my own and don't represent those of my employer", but when a customer is upset, that disclaimer doesn't mean much to them.
If you are concerned about your business' online reputation, you might want to consider a Reputation Management Firm to help you control what shows up on the first few pages of search results. That way you can make a better impression on people who Google your company.
There is a fine line between encouraging occasional social breaks and allowing a social media free-for-all throughout the working day.
Exactly where you draw your line in the sand depends on your company culture and objectives, so experiment if necessary to decide your best strategy.
How social are your employees?
About the Author: Sophie Lizard covers business topics for a variety of sites, including Reputation.com.