Using social media in the workplace

4 minute read

Last week All Twitter released the results of a survey of 2,500 British employers, and told us that 48% of them have banned their employees from using Twitter in the office. Naturally here at Sign-Up.to, websites such as Twitter and Facebook are regularly visited as we actively promote the use of social media for business marketing, so let’s spend a few moments to reflect on the results of this survey, and what the motivation and options really are.

Why block social media sites at work?

The two most commonly cited reasons for blocking social media websites are to prevent them being a distraction (and therefore reducing productivity), and to ensure employees don’t comment negatively about the business while they’re at work. In our case nearly all our staff require access to Twitter and Facebook in order to perform their jobs – we both develop online tools to make social media marketing easy, and use these channels ourselves – but even if that wasn’t the case I’d still advocate open access.

Why you shouldn’t block social media sites at work.

Our staff have a great deal of social media interaction both in and out of work. This really helps keep a sense of team spirit and it’s generally a morale booster. So long as the team are well educated in the use of social media, this certainly outweighs any risk of a lack of productivity.

If an employee is inclined to comment negatively while at work, they might well do so out of work. Equally they might make such comments on other internet forums, or verbally to outsiders, or by email – their options are nearly endless! Which other sites will you block? What about all the other applications that connect to the Facebook and Twitter APIs? Far better to have a sensible social media policy in place, and encourage your teams to raise concerns internally. Preventing access to social media for this reason is treating a symptom not the disease. By keeping good communication internally, it should be possible to address those concerns and hopefully provide a more positive workplace for all involved.

Embracing social media at work.

Of course we don’t just permit access to these sites, we positively promote it! Teams have their own Twitter accounts to which they post status updates – these are rendered in real time on the status TVs around the office that also show system load and campaign traffic – this keeps everyone on the same page. All staff are encouraged to provide content to our Facebook page, and we’ve even got our own Twitter hashtag for Saturday morning hangover related tweets.

Naturally staff must be educated as to when to use a private Twitter account, how to use Facebook privacy settings and even then what kind of material is acceptable. I’d opine that the time spent doing this is less than can be spent blocking sites and APIs left, right and centre, and the benefits are clear. Social media savvy employees can reap the benefits of this technology both for themselves and for the company they represent. We strive to build a community around our brand, and social media is a great way to get these relationships going.

What do you think? If you’ve got something to say or you’d like to know more, please leave a comment below!