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Jul 22 2012
Many organizations view social media in the workplace as a threat – they think about how social media in the workplace exposes them to risk. There are plenty of stories of employees posting inappropriate things online that create embarrassing situations for their employers.
But that isn’t the full story. Most employees are participating in social media whether you talk to them about it or not… and most employees want to use social media to support their employers.
This reminds me of air travel….
When you are on an airplane and one person stands up before the seatbelt sign give the go-ahead the flight attendant gets on the speaker and says “Everyone, please stay seated until the fasten seatbelt sign is removed.” The guy standing doesn’t hear it so even more angrily the attendant says “WILL EVERYONE PLEASE SIT DOWN!”. The thing is, that there is only one guy standing. Why not just ask him to sit down instead of shouting at everyone because one person didn’t follow the rules. Plus, he may not have known, so speaking to him directly about the issue could get him to sit down sooner.
The point I’m making is that just because one or two people may post inappropriate things doesn’t mean that everyone is waiting to say terrible things about your company. Studies show that over 60% of employees want to post positive things to suppor their employer online.
To this end, it is important to consider the positive potential impacts of social media. While employees could say negative things about your organization, they primarily have good intentions.
The reality is that most employees want to do good things to support the companies that they work for. Smart organizations need to consider providing training to prevent mistakes (like standing up before they are supposed to on an airplane) and to empower employees to advocate for their companies.
Hubspot is a great example of a company that empowers their organization. They encourage their employees to tweet and be active on social media, and when they have news to spread, their employees are their biggest advocates.
A social media training program should focus on both the upside and the risks of social media and educate employees on both.
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