Why managers must embrace social media
Many companies are still wary of social media in the workplace, worrying that it will lead to much procrastination amongst employees.
But is such thinking outdated?
Do you work in an office where accessing social networks is prohibited? That’s not a surprise. Technology is designed to make our lives easier and more efficient, yet productivity levels have dipped in recent years as workers waste hours each week updating statuses and liking photos. As a result, a network-enforced block on social media seems like a logical solution for many companies.
But it’s not.
The reality is social media should be embraced in the workplace – as long as it’s done in moderation – and as long as there is clarity between the personal and professional divide.
The greatest benefit social media brings to a company is that it provides a platform to market your business for free. In fact, it can be detrimental to your organisation if you don’t have an interactive online presence – a sign that you’re not keeping up with the times.
Team vs Individual approach: Workload management is critical
There are two approaches to social media. You can either have a dedicated employee (or team) or you can add it to an existing employee’s workload. If you choose the latter option, the original workload must be decreased; social media requires time and effort, just as any piece of work does.
The biggest mistake managers make is thinking that social media strategy and delivery can just be factored into existing workflows.
How you decide which is best will often be dictated by your resources (size of company, budget). Digital natives (see below) in your workforce will be the most adept at managing social media accounts. All that time that was previously being haemorrhaged is now being harnessed into a potentially profitable outcome.
From a wider perspective, it’s a futile task having social media blocked on computers. Most employees will simply resort to their smartphone and waste even more time checking for updates since they’re on an independent device detached from their work.
It’s also likely to create a negative atmosphere: people naturally don’t like being prohibited from doing things and such a move could decrease their morale and overall output.
Use your Chartered Manager skills
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for dealing with social media. Some employees might be naturally able to keep half an eye on their latest friend requests and still get all their work done to a high standard. Others may struggle to multitask and end up having to stay late in order to finish their projects. And that’s where good management comes in. It’s imperative to understand each member of staff as an individual rather than just a number. Be open with them and discuss ways where both parties can be satisfied; it might be that you allow a certain amount of Twitter checking every hour, for example.
Generation game: the new X, Y and Z
These employees have shared their adolescence with the rise of personal technology and they’re the demographic that have taken to social media like a duck to water. They will require the least training but can be quite cavalier with their messaging.
These employees were already well into their professional working lives before social media exploded onto the scene and their take-up was slower, leaving them behind in the expertise race. However they can offer a healthy blend of familiarity and cautiousness.
These are similar stragglers but they can have wildly differing perspectives on social media. Some might scoff at the idea of it being useful in the workplace while others will demand their business is kept as up-to-date as possible. They can take an outside view on social media strategy but may also think that social media is dumbing down.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Professional Manager magazine.