With the popularity of social media usage in business continuing to rise, the ways in which social networking platforms are used in the workplace are put under the spotlight.

At the recent Insider’s Social Networking for Business breakfast held at MOSI in Manchester, the message was clear – restrictions on social media in the workplace need to be lifted and companies need to be proactive in developing policies to encourage its use for business benefit.

Mark Williams, managing director of ETN LinkedIn Training, said that although social media can be a distraction, it can also be used to enhance a business if used in the right way.

“As a company, if you can understand each one of these channels, how they work and where the audiences are, then it will be easier for your staff to use it in the right way,” he said.

“We can ban these things on work PCs but in reality people will just start using their phones to access social networks. It’s better to embrace, educate and then use it in a positive way.”

Well said, but it remains clear that there still lies plenty of concern when it comes to using social media – how effective is it? Won’t it just serve as a distraction to staff? What about the potential security of a brand? Do they really help to attract new business?

What it comes down to is the need for better understanding of social media. It is a good idea to have a training programme implemented for a few members of staff who will then be able to take control of the social media accounts on behalf of the company.

Another important factor is to develop social media guidelines whereby you are setting out the restrictions of social media usage in the workplace. Employees will be grateful to have a better degree of clarity on how they can use social media networks, making them more likely to use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in a more positive way.

Guidelines could include encouraging members of staff to be
transparent about who they are, who they represent and are reminded that they are representing the company at all times.

It is also a good idea to encourage staff that whilst we all have the occasional work frustration, Twitter and Facebook are not the best venues in which to air them!

Staff should also be encouraged to only disclose publicly available information and that sharing information about co-workers may affect them inside as well as outside the office, so all standard HR policies apply between colleagues across the social web.

For more information, please visit www.je-consulting.co.uk

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