It seems like it wasn’t all that long ago when work computers didn’t have access to the internet.
Fast forward a few years and virtually every employee, whether in an office or not, has quick access to the internet via smart phones, laptops, IPads or desktop computers.
Social media has exploded over the last couple of years and the world has become very open and transparent about sharing the most intimate of information online.
This has resulted in a new people group that uses technology to share life’s highlights and struggles with anyone who is interested.
Organizations can have their reputation damaged by disgruntled employees who use social media to vent frustrations about their employment experience.
There can also be a decrease in employee productivity due to an excessive amount of time spent using social media at work.
Employers are scrambling to manage this new world of social media and are trying to figure out ways to control its effects.
Successful employers have figured out how to partner with employees to use social media as a tool to improve branding, increase exposure and ultimately sales.
8 Tips for Managing Social Media in the Workplace
1. Get in the Know
Employers need to keep up with changing technology trends and be aware of all the various methods of online information sharing.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram are all examples of social products that have surfaced in just a few short years.
Employers need to have a good understanding of these tools so they can strategize their own use for these social media platforms and understand how employees use them.
2. Take a Stance
Organizations need to determine the best approach to monitoring and using social media in the workplace.
This includes making decisions on how much tolerance the organization will have for employees engaging in social media activities while at work.
For example, does the organization allow employees to access their Facebook page while on the clock?
There are many organizations that don’t have a clue how much time employees are engaging in social media activities during the workday.
If you are one of them, you should explore the available tools that can track internet usage.
There are reporting tools that can tell you what websites employees are going to and the amount of time spent on them.
Ask your IT professional to help you identify the best monitoring tool for your organization.
3. Set Social Media Expectations
Once the organization determines its approach to allowing (or disallowing) social media it is important to communicate employee behavior expectations.
There should be a very clear understanding of what will and will not be tolerated by the organization.
For example, are employees allowed to send tweets or update their Facebook status while on the clock?
Employees need to know what they can and cannot do at work.
4. Write Policy
Writing policies and procedures helps to keep everyone on the same page so having a written social media policy can help maintain consistency in practice.
A social media policy may include things like the importance of protecting confidential information about the organization or not allowing the posting of office pictures online.
Keep in mind that policies are only as effective as they are enforced so don’t waste your time writing policy unless you plan to enforce it if you are made aware that the policy was breached.
5. Train Employees
Employees should be trained on social media policies and the consequences of not adhering to the policy.
This is also a good time to share information regarding the organization’s stance on social media trends and its goals for using the platform to reach new customers.
6. Manage Employee Performance
Employees who are busy have less time to “play” online or on social media platforms.
Use a structured performance management process to ensure employees have updated job descriptions, written employee goals, and clear performance expectations.
If employees have time to play on the internet they either don’t have enough to do or they are not being managed properly.
Do performance management training with your managers to get the most out of your employees.
7. Partner with Employees
Find ways to partner with employees to help the organization market products and services.
For example, ask employees to share information about a new rewards program with their Facebook friends.
Create incentive programs for employees who help others become aware of new products and services and use in-house public forums to acknowledge positive social media usage.
8. Manage Disgruntled Employees
Disgruntled employees are typically the result of a challenging and unpleasant work environment.
Train supervisors on techniques in managing performance and monitor employee satisfaction to keep a pulse on front-line employee issues.
Work with employees to resolve issues and acknowledge and address perceptions.
This can be done by keeping organizational communication lines open and by being proactive instead of reactive to employee issues and concerns.
Social media is here to stay so why not figure out a way to embrace the technology and partner with employees to take advantage of its vast reach.
Working with employees to manage their time at work, and setting clear expectations for behaviors, is a good first step in ensuring your organization does not get dinged by a disgruntled employee.