Social Media: Benefits and Concerns

It is very likely that you and your employees are using social media on a regular basis. Whether it is through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Linkedin, employees are making connections with individuals and businesses to which they have an interest. Businesses are taking advantage of this fact by advertising to consumers through various social media channels, asking, for example, for consumers to “like” or “join” them. This type of business-to-consumer communication tool is also being used by businesses to communicate with their own employees. Before employers use social media as a communication tool, the benefits and cautions need to be addressed.

First of all, let’s explore the benefits of using social media. Eric Mower and Associates, a marketing agency offers four main reasons:

  1. To promote community within the company. The business can stir a conversation regarding a new product, or procedure within the organization.
  2. Show off the company culture. Share accomplishments, positive employee experiences and ways the culture supports the employee.
  3. Attract new talent. Social media shows prospective employees a new aspect of the company.
  4. Transparency. As a brand or company, social media gives the opportunity to have live interaction with people. Giving a place for employees to ask questions or voice concerns via social media illustrates to employees that their opinions matter.

Caution needs to be taken when employers begin to communicate to employees via social media. The first concern is privacy for both employee and employer account holders. Best practices dictate that employers should not have access to employee accounts. On other side employers should establish social media policies to protect themselves, clients and employees.

The second concern is for employee distraction. Employees may become distracted on social media sites while using it for work-related tasks, causing loss of production. It is the employer’s responsibility to establish guidelines for:  the activity of account’s associated with the company, use of social media during work hours and creating and maintaining the company’s social media profiles. Establishing comprehensive social media polices will alleviate these concerns.

As younger generations enter the workforce employers should view social media as a trend that will continue to increase. It can allow for improved communications that can assist in breaking down department, geographical and generational barriers. By taking proper caution, social media can be an important and useful business tool.

Article contributed by Marcus Wade, a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Marketing Intern. Marcus has helped our Benefits Department with seasonal services, as well as providing social media analysis.

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