A Look Into the Pros and Cons of a Workplace Social Media Ban
With social media sweeping the Internet, many businesses wonder whether or not they should ban social media in the workplace altogether. Some companies simply suspect too much wasted time to be at risk, while others worry about liability claims that can arise with misuse that may occur on the clock.
In this article, we will tackle the pros and cons of allowing social media to be used in the workplace to help you decide whether or not a workplace social media ban is a step in the right direction for your company or if a formal social media policy is a better answer.
What Are the Cons of Having Social Media in the Workplace?
One of the biggest concerns of allowing social media within the workplace is wasted time. According to a survey taken in 2012, about 390 hours were wasted each year from employees using social media while at work. Six years later, one can imagine how many more hours each year get wasted on social media in the workplace with technology taking over.
Second to wasted time, is the worry of mistakes and misuse. A business is only as strong as the sum of its parts and if those parts are representing themselves online in ways that do not align with company standards, it can be concerning and ultimately problematic. When prospects look to the web to evaluate the totality of a business, and are able to see the posts of employees, you’ll never truly know if something they saw influenced their decision not to do business with your company.
Misuse Can Put Your Company at Risk
Social Media misuse can become a huge concern when employees really have the potential to post anything they please at the touch of a button. Misuse can range from employees using the company social media branding site inappropriately, accidentally linking incorrect information to the page, all the way to employee’s friend requesting one another on social media sites; which may cause some employees to feel forced to create outside friendships with people from the workplace.
An example of social media misuse within the Taco Bell franchise occurred in 2013 when an employee was filmed licking individual taco shells. This obviously caused an uproar in customer dissatisfaction and despite the evidence resulting in this person being caught in the act, it caused a lot of trouble for the company putting franchise owners at risk.
Related to a Drop in Productivity
Studies have shown that when social media use is allowed within the workplace, employees can potentially waste up to an hour on social media each work day. Every fifteen minutes social media can cause employees to become distracted with posts, notifications or messages from friends while on the clock. Loss in productivity from social media can cost companies an average of $10,000-$10 million per year depending on how big the company is.
Bullying and Harassment
Social media use within the workplace can also lead to bullying and harassment liabilities. An employer cannot simply ban their employees from having their own social media accounts, however, so long as it is included in the handbook or contract prior to onboarding an employee, the employer can have rules and regulations put into place of what cannot be shared on their social media accounts.
This helps protect the company’s name and brand in case of any misuse or malicious content that could potentially be posted. If an employee becomes frustrated with another coworker they may be tempted to make harassing or discriminatory comments about that coworker to their online friends, and having these regulations set in place will help prevent that from happening so long as the employee is determined to stay with the company and adhere to these rules. It is important for employers to make clear that any type of misconduct can and will be treated in the same manner as if it occurred on the actual grounds of the business location itself.
Potentially Leaves Your Business Vulnerable to Viruses and Hacks
It is always important to make sure that when the use of social media at work is occurring, a close eye is kept on the exact sites that employees are using. If an employee is not aware damage to the company’s computer systems can be done as viruses can occur. If a hacker or a virus takes over your technology this can cause the entire system to shut down or malfunction resulting in major losses in productivity and added costs if the end results leave the systems unable to regain proper usage.
The Arguments For Keeping Social Media at Work
Despite businesses arguing that social media can be nothing but an absolute distraction in the workplace, others disagree. As a matter of fact, some argue that not only should social media use be encouraged, but that everyone should participate. Points can be made that allowing employees to use social media within the workplace can encourage employees to work harder. Allowing social media use while on the clock can show employees that you trust them, which can result in a boost of morale and overall happiness for employees. When you trust your employees, they feel valued and appreciated. Short breaks throughout a work day can make an employee feel more at ease and happier, therefore allowing them to better serve your business and your customers.
Build Company Culture
Allowing social media to be used within the workplace can also build stronger relationships between employees within the company. Building valuable relationships with co-workers gives businesses a leg up on the competition, because they work more easily together and genuinely want to succeed with one another. Not only does social media help build relationships between current employees, but it can also be used as a tool of recruitment for potential new employees. When a new hire is looking through the web to find out about a specific company, different hashtags or website links may come up in relation to that company. So long as company employees and/or social media coordinators for that company are posting wisely, this could attract potential candidates that can help the company thrive.
Provide a Channel for Advocacy
Social media use within the workplace can help promote a company’s brand. With Internet users today having an average of about 200 Facebook friends and over 50 Twitter followers, a company’s brand can reach thousands of people within minutes depending on the amount of staff members within a company participating in social media dialogues. Social media advocacy can allow for not only an employee to be recognized by other professionals but also by the company itself. In hopes of employees wanting to advocate the brand, a good idea can be to promote different incentives for employees that participate. Promoting the company can lead to a promotion for a certain employee(s) down the road or recognizing a skill or passion within an employee that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. Giving recognition to employees for promoting the company’s brand will encourage leadership qualities that you may not see from employees without social media advocacy use.
Awesome Way To Network
Networking using different social media websites can allow companies to reach out to other businesses that may be working on similar projects. There are two categories of online networkers: the posters and the seekers. A fully functioning, strong business, will have a website built like a poster, actively updating information and opportunities. Seekers are customers, actively searching for updates on products and opportunities to possibly give their hand in helping out the ‘posters’ company. It should be noted that as a seeker, it is important to always search for HLN (high-level networkers). HLN’s are very active on the web and have a minimum of 500 connections; meaning that their profiles are entirely set up for exactly what a seeker would be searching for. It is also important to note that when networking via social media, always make the conversation about how you can help the company improve rather than how the joining the company can benefit you.
Stay Up-To-Date On the Latest Trends
By using social media as a way to brand your company and use it as a tool of networking with other businesses and employees, this also allows business to stay up to date on a variety of business trends. Being able to connect with other companies provides a great opportunity to always see what other companies are doing at the touch of a button. Seeing different strategies laid out onto a website, or even connecting with other business professionals via the web can help make sure your business is staying current with what customers are looking and asking for.
Generate Sales Leads
Using social media as a way of branding a company is one of the quickest ways to reach a targeted audience. However, being that it is social media, you don’t want to bombard these websites and apps with advertisements left and right about your company and what it can potentially offer. Social media is all about personalization and really getting to know your audience. If a company makes it their strategy and mission to connect with their following in a way that provides them with value, prospective customers will eventually find you on their own through social media.
It is very simple, if you have a social media accounts set up for your company and a customer makes a comment on that site; reply kindly and find a way to meet that individual’s needs. Creating a blog on your website can also help address issues that customers may be facing and allow you to keep your website updated on what the business is improving on to better serve the customer base. Being that there are so many different social media sites that can be used, it is important to make sure to utilize at least two different social media tools to better generate sales leads.
Going through multiple social media outlets to better improve your company is a sure-fire way to produce more advertising strategies. If a blog post is included in the social media account’s profile that is created, this can allow for consumers to easily sift through information and understand what the company is all about. Social media allows people to easily share content, meaning within a matter of minutes; one person sharing any information about your company’s site can ultimately lead to thousands of viewers searching for your page to learn more about what the company has to offer.
Direct Communication With Your Target Market
Direct communication with a targeted audience can create strong relationships with customers. Providing customers with real-time communication and feedback is a really great way to stay connected and keep them coming back to your company. When blog posts are created, and advertising is posted, a certain audience will become attracted to your product, these audiences are every day social media users. Being able to respond to a customer complaint or even customer praise via the web is a great way to show not only them, but the rest of your viewers that you genuinely care about what consumers have to say about your product and show them what you have to offer.
Is it Even Possible to Ban Social Media?
It is difficult to ban social media altogether within the workplace due to it being used for many of the business branding techniques, and it can be even more difficult to make sure employees are staying on task and not navigating through different windows on their personal accounts or mobile phones.
Social Media Policy and Training May be Your Best Option
During the onboarding process, it is important to point out what exactly the company social media policies are. Make it clear to employees what is and is not allowed within the workplace to avoid any misinterpretation or confusion. Whether or not computers and/or cell phones provided by the company have access to social media should be included along with what can be accessed on these devices. It is always best to block pages that the company does not want their employees to gain access to. With a company policy on social media put into place, employees will be aware of what type of content can be posted on their personal social media accounts about the company itself and made aware of any regulations that the company has to avoid any liabilities.
This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.