Using social media in the workplace
by Catherine Welborn, editor
Problem: You see value in using social media in the workplace to track industry trends, provide training opportunities for employees and generate positive PR for your organization. However, you are concerned that if you offer employees opportunities to use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter at work, they will abuse the privilege.
Solution: Follow these tips to create an effective social media strategy:
- Start slow. You have a plethora of social media sites to choose from, and you can easily overwhelm your staff if you try to take on too many at once. Instead of jumping into Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, FourSquare and more all at once, pick one or two social media sites to focus on. You won’t benefit if you create only a profile on several sites. You need to participate as an active member to gain followers, fans or contacts—and ultimately increase your profits—so don’t spread yourself too thin. Once your team has mastered one or two sites, you can expand your social media presence.
- Set clear expectations. You always want to avoid giving vague instructions to your team, and it’s no different with social media. Asking a staff member to “stay on top of Twitter” could result in the person spending hours on the site every day. If that’s not what you intend, say so. Example: “I’d like you to tweet three to five times a day, with at least one of those promoting our ‘product of the week’ and one directing followers to our blog. The rest are up to you but should be relevant to our followers and our field. Please don’t spend more than an hour on this a day; 20 minutes should be typical.”
- Automate. One way to ensure that your staff is using social media efficiently is to automate it as much as possible. HootSuite allows you to link multiple social media accounts so you can, for example, write one message that shows up both as a tweet and status update on Facebook. TwitterFeed allows you to link your social media accounts to your organization’s blog, so that a new blog post automatically produces a tweet and/or a status update. Of course, you don’t want all your tweets and updates to be automatically generated—the human element is important for success on these sites.
- Ask to see results. Check in periodically to ensure that your team is using the sites effectively. Look for growth in followers or fans and activity such as “Likes” or comments. Facebook makes it easy to track your results. You can request a weekly e-mail update that summarizes your page’s changes. If your employees know that you’re keeping tabs on their results, they will work hard to make sure you see growth and improvement each time you check in.
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