As many companies struggle to police the usage of social media by employees on company time, others are beginning to realize there may be a simple solution. If there was a way to leverage this behavior for the benefit of the company, would you consider it?
Why are they spending time on social media?
In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, over 77% of employees report using some form of social media while at work. In this research, they also broke down the reasons employees use social media while on the clock. You can find the comprehensive list here, but the top reason is to take a mental break. More notably, some of the reasons expressed were that they reach out on social platforms to find answers related to work, or to connect and better understand their co-workers.
Why is this a problem
Currently, the prevailing mindset among management is that any time an employee spends on social media is time they are taking away from the productivity of the workplace. The need to be constantly vigilant of employees staring at their phone instead of working also adds to the expected workload of the supervisors who are expected to curb the use of social media on company time.
Although a majority of the companies interviewed in various surveys do have a strict social media policy, most report that enforcing them is a near endless task with very little success. Even Monster.com explains that blocking these websites on your company computers is futile. Employees will spend more time working on ways around the blocks than they would have just visiting the sites in question. You can read more about that here if you have an interest.
Problems as opportunities in disguise
While numerous sites will expound upon the benefits of letting your employees use social media (within reason of course), none of them touch on one of the main reasons you should advocate to allow employees access to social media while at work. Since there is no stopping your employees from accessing social media throughout their workday, why not let that time be spent helping the company?
First, let’s establish a baseline.
Does your company have a presence on these social media platforms? If it doesn’t, you should address that post haste!
Today’s consumer uses social media to research the companies they are interested in and will follow those they wish to learn more about. If you do have a social media presence, is there someone whose job it is to monitor those sites and respond to posts made by clients and potential clients?
Having a social media presence in this day and age is essential if your company wants to compete intelligently. Social media platforms are another way to promote your product, but perhaps even more importantly, it is a medium that allows your clients to reach out to you with their questions or concerns.
Studies show that as of 2016, 80% of consumers used social media to engage with the brands they use or have questions about as they grow tired of waiting on hold or waiting for days to get an email response.
Turning social media time into productive time
One of the most significant benefits of having your employees on social media is that a great many consumers will use a company’s social media to discuss relevant topics. Maybe they had a bad experience with the company and are looking for a resolution to their problem. If your employees are empowered to assist these clients, you will find that the public image of your company can improve drastically. There are also potential clients who reach out to a company on their social platform for answers to questions they were unable to find on the company website. Having your employees answer these questions can create positive exposure for your product and could drive an increase in new customers.
How often are your employees posting to company profiles? Your employees have detailed and helpful knowledge that could be leveraged to drive business for the company. Are they posting about how they enjoy working for the company, are excited about a recent product the company has launched? When your employees speak highly of something the company is doing it is excellent for public relations and exposure and costs nothing in ad revenue.
Guidelines instead of prohibitions
Perhaps there is interest in allowing your employees to use social media to promote and assist with your corporate image, but there is a concern with the public image these employees might present. While a reasonable concern, it shouldn’t hinder your choice to work with your employees regarding social media rather than working against them.
As previously stated, your employees will be using social media while at work. If the current rules strictly prohibit this, and they do stumble upon a concerned or upset customer, they will not report it as reporting it would be an admission of breaking the social media policy.
If instead, you had a policy in place to guide the type of responses expected when presenting themselves as an ambassador for the company, you will find that they are much more willing to step in and assist where they can.
A firm set of guidelines for acceptable types of responses on social media, instead of a blanket ban, will present your employees the ability to increase brand recognition positively and will decrease response time to publicly posted concerns.
A paradigm shift
A Twitter study performed in 2016 shows that when brands respond to their consumer base on Twitter, they are willing to spend 20% more on average and are 30% more likely to recommend that brand to others.
And that was over two years ago. It’s safe to assume those numbers have increased
It’s time to stop thinking of social media as a nuisance and start utilizing it as the customer engagement tool that it is. Examine your social media policies and if they are restrictive, consider making them inclusive instead. Your employees will mentally benefit from the change. With a well-thought-out customer service policy with appropriate guidelines, you will find that your company’s brand recognition increases along with opportunities for customer satisfaction and the addition of new customers you didn’t know were missing.