I remember when I first started in social media, I was always getting in trouble for being on Facebook at work ALL OF THE TIME. WTF. I had to go around and around about how social media is what they hired me to do, which meant that I had to be on Facebook --> duh. Once, I even got in trouble for being on my cell phone during work hours when I was on Instagram. Mind you, this was when Instagram was first released and was only available on the phone! When I explained this to my boss, she asked me to find some other way to access it through the computer because there was a no cell phone policy in the office.
Fortunately, at least when it comes to being the social media strategist, companies now understand that it requires massive amounts of time on social media. However, some companies are still in the vast debate about whether other employees are allowed to access social media during office hours.
I've worked for businesses on every side of this spectrum:
One company would let employees on social if they only participated in conversations about the brand during work hours. Employees were not allowed to engage with any other content, such as their friends' posts, during office hours. If they were caught liking a friend's post that had nothing to do with the brand, their social media privileges were revoked.This bred a fear in the employees that they were being constantly spied on by upper management, so some stayed off altogether, while others kept getting caught for not being able to resist liking friends' posts while online to participate in brand conversations.
Another company blocked social media altogether. Employees could not even get to Facebook even if they wanted to. Only select employees had access, such as those on the digital and social teams. This tended to just piss employees off more than anything, or at least made them feel untrustworthy to their management.
Two companies actually included teaching social media in my job description, so I held workshops and classes where I would actually teach employees how to use all of the social networks. I also coached employees on what forums they should get involved in, and what LinkedIn groups would be best for them. This, of course, made for the happiest employees.
However, which companies do you think had the best social media community in general?! ---> The ones that empowered employees to use their own social networks, even during work hours. Your employees are a valuable resource to your social ecosystem. They help cultivate conversations around your brand, and give an authentic insider's view to the company that consumers love. It's nothing new --> employees are your best brand advocates. They are trusted by social communities because they have this inside view of the company and let people know that all is well within the brand.
I highly recommend tapping into your social media strategist's expertise, and allowing them to hold classes within your company for your employees. Let them teach your employees how to use their own social networks to be brand advocates. And, if they happen to like a friend's post during work hours, so what? Their ten seconds of liking a post not related to work is well worth the advocacy and trust that will come from letting them use social media.
What are your thoughts? Does your brand allow employees to be on social during work hours?
- Marji J. Sherman