Chances are your employees are using social media. They’re connecting with friends and brands on Facebook, networking with professional contacts on LinkedIn or following relevant Tweets, all from their computers at work or on their smartphones. How are you engaging with them via social media?
Today’s digital age is changing the way we communicate with our employees—instead of talking at them, we can talk with them. Shifting from one-way to open communication can strengthen internal relations and help break the departmental and geographical boundaries within a company.
What should we share?
Of course, not everything within a business should be up for public sharing and discussion. Obviously, information pertaining to benefits and retirement, private personnel matters, salary, and performance reviews should be communicated privately and securely with employees via corporate email, an intranet, private social network, internal blog or at a staff meeting.
But there are numerous other ways to use social media in order to connect and share with your current and prospective employees:
- Announce company news by linking to a news release on your website
- Welcome a new hire or congratulate someone on a promotion
- Link to a news article about your company
- Post photos and videos
- Highlight your community involvement
- Recognize individuals or teams of employees for their work
- Share industry news and ask employees to share their opinions
- Acknowledge customers or share business success stories
- Encourage health and wellness
For starters, using social media for employee communications can help:
- Promote community. Providing a forum for employees to interact and share with each other can help build a sense of camaraderie and community, encourage collaboration and idea-sharing, and put people at all levels in all departments on a level playing field.
- Show off your company culture. Talk about why your company is a great place to work and how that leads to good business and partnerships. Show how you work hard and play hard.
- Attract new talent. A social media site can show a softer, more human side to a company than a corporate website can.
- Transparency. On a public social networking site, there is no hiding. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you are engaging as a brand/company with real people, in real time and have the opportunity to show your company’s personality and culture.
How do we patrol?
Before you start engaging, you should make an effort to define guidelines on how employees interact. A policy shouldn’t be to control or inhibit employees, but rather to offer them suggestions on how to responsibly engage in social media in order to help them protect themselves and the company. Give your employees thoughtful reasons about why they have a stake in a company and may want to participate in protecting its good name and reputation.
In a social media policy, you should outline what can and cannot be shared publicly by employees. Think about how we talk with people. We talk differently to close friends and peers than to people we do business with, and there are probably certain things (and ways we present them) we would just never show or say to a customer or coworkers.
Most social media activities are public, so if employees wouldn’t say something in a public place, then they shouldn’t write or post it online. Think of social media as a room with an open door that anyone could enter at any time. Even if you think it is private now, it’s online, a place where everything can end up public.
That’s why it is so important to help guide your employees as they engage in social media—either as an employee or as an individual. A policy can give an overview of your corporate social engagement philosophy, what your company views as responsible engagement, offer suggestions on what you should or shouldn’t post, and alert them to copyright and fair use regulations.
The ability to instantly share and connect is what makes social media so powerful; it’s also what makes it so (potentially) explosive. Have a policy in place to harness the power of social media to improve employee communications and morale.