Creating a professional social media culture

Social media has secured a valuable role in today’s workplace, yet proponents can still have a tough time getting the rest of their organisation on-board.

The difficulties range from colleagues who use it too much to those who avoid it completely. Many organisations have also fallen foul of inappropriate social media posts, most commonly where employees have failed to understand the crucial difference between personal use and professional use. (We have a social media crisis infographic for you to download and keep).

Raising internal awareness is the only way to bring everyone up to date with the dos and don’ts of social media in the workplace, so here are our top five tips for building a positive social media culture.

Take Control

Social media avoiders tend to cite lack of time, fears over privacy and being bombarded with messages as key reasons for not getting involved. Communicate that today’s social media platforms give users a much greater level of control over who sees what they do, and who can get in touch. Hold awareness sessions and encourage everyone to attend, because even seasoned users can sometimes discover features or functionality they weren’t aware of. A healthy approach to time allocation also helps to alleviate both fears and overuse. For example, at SA Law we recommend ten minutes per day for responding to daily activity, and an additional hour or so every month to create posts, research connections, write thought pieces and update your profile.

Create ambassadors

Explain the positive value of social media to colleagues, particularly in the context of its popularity. More and more of our interactions take place online, which makes it vital for organisations to be active in this sphere. A colleague who tweets a positive message about their organisation can often have more impact on customers than a pre-prepared marketing message. And, as so many people use social media, it has become a primary source of information. The thoughts of customers, competitors, intermediaries and experts are all waiting to be analysed and added to your strategies. Finally, don’t forget that sharing links to pages of your website increases search engine rankings, so getting employees to post links to content increases its exposure and the chance of others finding it.

Set boundaries

Remind employees that they are professional representatives of your organisation, and inappropriate social media posts can have a hugely negative impact. Horror stories over the last few years include employees ridiculing and harassing customers and colleagues online, and posting photographs of internal mistakes that damage customer confidence. Staff members need to be aware that certain online activities could result in disciplinary proceedings, whether they were posting at work or outside office hours.

Write a policy

As with all aspects of employment, organisations do well to set a behavioural standard. In this case, by defining a clear social media policy that employees are expected to follow. Our top tips article here, outlines the top five policies that every organisation should have, and you can also download our handy social media policy template. which was a free giveaway at our recent HR Forum. (To find out more about these confidential HR forums, click here.)

Communicate the dangers

Sadly, as social media has risen in popularity, so has its use by information thieves. Many are criminals looking for personal information that they can exploit, but instances of corporate espionage are becoming more commonplace. The classic scenario is a LinkedIn message to one of your staff members from a fake recruiter, who encourages them to talk about the projects they are working on. Before you know it, your confidential intellectual property and strategies are in the hands of competitors. Make employees aware that people aren’t always who they say they are, and remind them of their responsibility to protect the organisation’s valuable information.

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