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Give Staff Access to Social Media?


One of the concerns that I hear all the time from businesses large and small is worrying that by getting involved in social media they will open themselves up to “bad” things being said about them online.

My first response to this comment is that if anyone is going to say “bad” things about you online they will say them whether you are there to engage with them about it or not!

And surely it’s better to be there so that you can find out what those “bad” things are so that you have half a chance of sorting them out. And, of course, the more you are able to engage online the more likely it is that there will be other balancing “good” comments about your business for people to see as well as the opportunity for your ‘raving fans’ to jump in and defend you.

Once that concern has been allayed (and not usually quite as quickly as my three brief paragraphs!) one of the other main concerns for larger businesses, with employees, is how to manage opening up social media within the organisation.

There are many concerns involved in this bit, some of which are:

What about if everyone spends all their time on Facebook and doesn’t get their work done?
How can we make sure that our employees are saying the right things about our business?
What happens if it all goes wrong?
On the face of it these are legitimate concerns but when I think back to my Retail HR days I realise that we have always had these types of potential issues when managing people.

Spending all their time on Facebook?
This isn’t about Facebook and social media, this is about performance management.

Employees have been able to waste their time for all time! It’s the way that we manage them that stops that happening. And, to be honest, if you think that blocking access to social media on your company computers will stop your employees from using social media whilst at work then, think again. Smartphones enable your employees to waste as much time on social media as they want, albeit that they will be a bit more obvious than if it was just on their computer.

But, in truth, there is a much wider opportunity that you are missing.

One of the reasons that companies give for not engaging with social media is about lack of time and resource. And even if you have someone within your business who is assigned to manage your social media, lack of time may well still be a problem.

If you can open your social media interactions up to more people in your organisation then you naturally will be able to engage with more people in the social world, both prospects and customers.

But of course that begs the question about…

How do we make sure they’re saying the right things on social media
The short answer to this question is that you need to have a well trained, motivated workforce who have your company interests at heart and can respond and interact on social media accordingly.

Couple that with company guidelines, a clear customer strategy and good internal communication and for the most part unleashing your employees on social media, or at least certain of them will pay dividends.

The long answer will inspire a number of other blog posts!

Social media disaster – what happens if it all goes wrong?
When I was in Retail HR we had people interacting with people every day in our stores and although we did everything we could to ensure that we had the right people working for us, the right culture to ensure they responded to people in the right way and the right leadership to make it happen, sometimes things went wrong.

And in my customer care training I used to explain that often a customer complaint situation handled well can turn a complaining customer into a raving fan.

A social media ‘disaster’, handled well, can produce a similar effect.

Obviously the idea is to try to ensure that nothing does go wrong, but there needs to be a contingency plan in place to help everyone to manage through any such challenges with the hope that any negative effect will be mitigated and if possible the situation will be turned round to produce a positive effect for the business.

I was talking to someone this week about the challenges of introducing social media in local government. I did some research online and came across this blog post, which talks about the experiences that the Monmouthshire Council had when they opened up social media to their staff, encouraging them to engage with their local community.

The line that I think sums up the learning from this that all businesses need to think about is:

“It seems all the issues we debated before and since this happened aren’t about social media at all – they’re about the way we work. Here is some of what we’ve learnt.”

Which takes us back to the beginning of this post.

Tanya Charlotte

Enthusiastic about Internet and online marketing, YouTube and social media to be exact, love to learn new things everyday, I also have a dog and two cats which I can't live without. You can train with me at the GYM 4 times a week and I'll never pass a good movie on Friday nights.