I’m entertained by all of the corporations that are still blocking employees from using social media. There are a couple of instances where it does make some sense. Defense contractors, for instance, probably shouldn’t have a whole bunch of employees running around using twitter and instagram. I don’t think Uncle Sam would like it much. But the rest of you? What’s your excuse?
Not that very long ago, before the invention of social media, it wasn’t an issue. After all, there wasn’t really an easy way for an employee to share something with hundreds or thousands of people in a few seconds. They might be able to text or send a picture with their cell phone, but it wasn’t likely to go very much farther than the original recipient. Yes, there were a few cases, and usually, those companies (and many more) followed up with disallowing cell phone usage on premises. And it worked. Mostly. Unless you count the hordes of unhappy employees it created. Most of which would have never used their now banned cell phone for anything more than sending a grocery list.
Social Media: Corporate Chaos Maker?
And then, blogs came along. And social media. Suddenly, the whole world had a way to communicate, almost instantaneously, with everyone. It no longer mattered if you were in Texas or Timbuktu. You could talk to each other. The conversation could bounce back and forth in seconds. And the majority of corporate headquarters around the world collectively gasped! They fell over each other in a rush to develop policies to restrict these new playthings their employees had. Fear of losing productivity, company secrets, and proverbial “face” meant complete bans on the whole lot. And it worked. Mostly. Except, this time, you haven’t just (I say just, like creating unhappy employees won’t ruin your company eventually anyways.) created unhappy employees. You’ve lost valuable marketing. You’ve lost a public voice that could be all about singing your companies praises. (You do have to be a company who has praises are worth singing, however.)
Social Media is a Toolset
What you should be doing, instead of being afraid of what your employees will do with these new tools, is to treat them like tools. When you deploy a new tool, whether it be software, machinery, or policy, you provide training to your employees on it’s usage so that you can avoid losses of productivity, injury, and turnover. Social media is just another tool. Instead of developing policies that forbid it, develop policies that embrace it. Provide your employees with the training that they need to employ social media tools for the betterment of the company.
Employees are the Voice of your Company
Whether you like it or not, your employees are the real voice of your company. Spend as much as you like on your next marketing campaign. It won’t matter a bit if enough of your employees start talking poorly of your company. Not only will they drive away potential employees, but they will also start driving away potential customers. The people that you need to pay you, can be directly affected by the people you pay.
Adding policies that allow social media isn’t going to cure a cancerous company. But, then, I wouldn’t expect a company that’s cancerous to be considering any sort of favorable social media policy in the first place.
Give your Employees a Voice
Allow your employees to be a public voice for your company. They’ll hear complaints. They’ll hear compliments. And, if you empower them just a little bit, they might fix the complaints, and enhance the compliments. Humans are social beings. From the dawn of time, we’ve acted within a social hierarchy. From tribal relations, to corporate ladders, we respond to social ques. Set some standards and guidelines, and then let your employees loose. Correct when necessary, but give them the ability to make a few mistakes. Instead of corporate time-clock punchers, you might find that you have real people working for you. And those real people, given a little freedom, might just respond by being a better marketing team than your marketing team.
img credit: quickredfoxandkits on Flickr.