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How SHOULD Employees Use Social Media?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
 Balance Out the Can't with the Can

A recent study found that 54% of businesses prohibit employee social media use completely. There are valid arguments supporting both sides of this debate. We've seen quite a few news stories in recent months about social media policies coming to light. We've seen the topic discussed with regards to the news industry, sports leagues, and more recently, movie studios.

Fears exist. Questions. "How are my employees going to screw things up out there?" The result often ends up coming in the form of strict social media policies that severely limit interactions and engagement. "Here are the things that you can't do."

What fears do you have involving employee social media use? Share your thoughts.

In many cases, these rules are very justified. Amber Naslund made a very good point in an interview with WebProNews at BlogWorld this past weekend though. If you're going to give employees guidelines and tell them how they should not be using social media, you should try balancing that by giving them some ways that they should use it.

In the long run it comes down to what your goals are for social media use, and those goals should influence your policies. When you figure your goals out, you should be able to figure out how you want employees to proceed. 

You should also use those goals to influence the tools you use to accomplish them. Wasted time is one of the most common reasons companies prohibit employee social media use. Wasted time can be minimized when you plan for specific goals. There are tons of social networks and related tools available, but that doesn't mean that you have to use them all. Try to determine which ones will most effectively help you accomplish what you are trying to do, whether that be push out information, drive traffic, provide customer service, etc.

When you can clearly establish your goals and the tools you want to use to accomplish them, it should be easier to clearly tell employees what they can be doing with those tools to help accomplish those goals. If you've picked a tool, you must have a reason for doing so. Share that reason in the policy. Make employees understand. "If you CAN use this tool this way, we CAN meet our goal of ____."

If this sounds vague, that's because different industries have different goals. Different businesses within the same industry have different goals.

What are your goals for business social media? Discuss here.

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About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Twitter: @CCrum237

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