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February 27, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Employees and social media – winning combination or recipe for disaster?

social mediaSocial media policies vary greatly from company to company. While some businesses openly encourage employees to stay active on social media networks, others block access to these networks entirely from work computers. Why is there such a big discrepancy?

Some brands that shy away from employee engagement on social media may deem it a distraction that cuts down on productivity. Others worry that trade secrets and other confidential information might be revealed to competitors. Still others are concerned that it blurs personal and professional lines, putting a company at risk for what an employee might be doing (and posting about) in their free time.

But even companies with conservative social media policies are taking a fresh look at the potential the socialsphere can have on employee engagement and brand marketing, and seeing the activity in a whole new light.

Boost employee engagement
It’s no secret that happy, actively engaged employees are more productive and loyal. But studies show that 70 percent of American employees either don’t like their job or are disengaged. Social media is a great way to boost employee involvement. Companies that empower their employees to interact in the socialsphere and create/share important content typically see a lift in employee morale and job satisfaction.

Boost the bottom line
Having an online presence is a critical part of growing a business today and, typically, the bigger the better. A company’s employees are yet another resource to help grow this presence and expand online reach. Having employees post about company activities and updates helps increase message distribution and encourages social shares. Furthermore, sales prospects are impressed when they see genuinely passionate and enthusiastic employees on social media.

To ensure your company’s social media strategy with employees is positioned for success, it’s important to consider some training and guidelines. Here are some tips for implementing social media engagement with employees:

1. Training
It’s important to educate employees about your company’s social media best practices. Because every company is different when it comes to what type of information they want shared and where, guidelines will vary. In-person training, videos and written guidelines can be helpful.

2. Professional profiles
Some companies recommend employees have a separate profile for their professional lives versus their personal. This ensures the boundaries are drawn and work-related topics are discussed in the appropriate spaces. The drawback is professional networks are often more succinct than personal ones, potentially limiting the audience that may see the messages.

3. Make it easy            
Some employees will be more savvy writing for social media than others. For those who are new or simply hesitant to interact online, simplify the process by providing content for them. Provide approved copy and applicable imagery to employees and encourage them to post. You can even add incentives, like a gift card, to the person who gets the most shares of their post.

In the end, each company must decide what’s best for them in regards to employee engagement with social media. Does your company encourage employees to stay active on social media? If so, what benefits, if any, have you seen?