Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Social Media in the Workplace

In recent years, social media has become a part of our daily lives, offering us a chance to connect and interact with old friends, sound off about topics that interest us, and serve as a platform for our interests and inspirations. This fascination with social media is not going away, either – in 2012, Americans spent 74 billion minutes on social media websites, which include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and many more. That averages out to about 20 percent of our time each day.

Social media is such an integral part of our lives that it only seems natural for businesses to jump on the bandwagon, too. Utilizing social media can be a great tool to reach out to customers, allowing a peek into what they are saying and doing regarding your company. Additionally, social media is a good way to interact with your customers, creating a positive dialog between your business and your customer base. Social media can also give your company the opportunity to create and generate a solid, popular online presence.

However, some may balk at the idea of allowing social media in the workplace, not just for their company, but more specifically for their employees. If the 2012 statistic above reveals anything, it shows that most of the time Americans spend on social media is at work. In fact, access to social media in the office has cost employers around $650 billion a year. While taking on a strict, no social media policy may seem like the best solution, it can backfire. Those companies that issued a ban reported lower employee morale, and it didn’t deter employees – they just used their smartphones instead.

In response to the social media problem at their company, 1SaleaDay.com, a Miami-based e-commerce company, created a Facebook-like site called Yammer, where employees can connect with each other through their company's own social media platform. The website a huge success, and 1SaleaDay.com saw their employees’ morale and productivity increase after the website launch.

1SaleaDay.com’s approach to employees spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets touched upon one major point about employees and social media – camaraderie, collaboration, and interaction is something that all employees crave and need to be better workers. Yammer just gave them a company-approved outlet.

If social media is a dilemma in your office, it may be a good idea to think up a solution to combat the problem before it gets out of hand. However, social media can also be used to your company’s advantage, increasing customer (and employee) satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue. Ultimately, embracing social media in your workplace doesn’t have to become an issue.

Below is an infographic on social media in the workplace from Unum Employee Benefits:

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