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Celebrate #SMDay: Social Media in the Workplace

Celebrate #SMDay: Social Media in the Workplace

Posted on 06/25/20 By Evan Stiger

It’s hard to imagine a time before social media existed. Six Degrees, the first social media platform, launched in 1997. Since then, usage has grown exponentially. According to Pew Research, 72% of Americans used some type of social network site in 2019, and social media management platform Hootsuite reported 3.2 billion active social media users in 2018.

Considering its widespread influence, social media quickly grew to be a critical tool for business to grow revenue and brand awareness. It is such a beloved marketing channel it was awarded its own holiday.

What is Social Media Day?

June 30, 2020 marks the eleventh annual World Social Media Day. Each year, users and companies take to their favorite platforms to celebrate social media’s impact, using the hashtag #SMDay.

What is this holiday, and why should it matter to business leaders and human resources (HR) professionals?

The History of Social Media Day

Social Media Day was launched on June 30, 2010 by Mashable, a multi-platform digital media website. In their words, the holiday is a way “to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.” Since then, top brands like the NBA use the occasion to educate, discuss, and enjoy social media.

Screenshot of a tweet from the NBA celebrating #SMDay

Why would a company or professional want to engage on social media? Keep reading to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of professional social media use.

Social Media in the Workplace

Research suggests leadership has some reason to be concerned. Their study listed several ways workers are active at work. Respondents most frequently reported using social media at work for non-productive reasons, including 34% saying they use social to “take a mental break from work” and 27% saying they “connect with friends and family.”

In an attempt to avoid distractions, Monster reports over half of employers block social media access at work. The article goes on to state that “blocking…access is a costly exercise that simply doesn’t work.” Many employees can find a way to circumvent blocks such as using cellular data rather than company wi-fi.

Social media blocks could also reduce productivity in some cases. Pew Research reports several ways respondents use social media to accomplish work more effectively or efficiently:

  • 24% use social media to make or support professional connections
  • 20% get information that helps them solve problems at work
  • 17% build or strengthen personal relationships with coworkers
  • 17% go on social media to learn about someone they work with
  • 12% ask work-related questions of people outside their organization online
  • 12% ask such questions of people inside their organization on social media

A survey by Harvard Business Review reported a higher number of workers using social media for work than for leisure, but also noted that employees were also more likely to look for a new job through social media.

Graph by Harvard Business Review demonstrating the downside of employees using social media for work


Social Media Marketing for Organizations

Today, social media is a crucial marketing channel for almost all businesses. Effective use of social media can drive brand awareness and business growth since modern consumers use social sites to find products and services. In fact, 74% of shoppers make buying decisions based on social media.

Social media is a useful tool for driving business objectives for several reasons, including the following:

  • Research: Branded social media accounts allow prospective users to learn more about your business before they buy.
  • Humanization: Consumers who see companies as a collection of people similar to them are more motivated to purchase.
  • Advertisements: Many of the larger social platforms allow companies to purchase ad space. These ads are typically more targeted and cost-effective than traditional media ads, like television or radio commercials.
  • Conversation: Few marketing channels allow consumers to engage in open discussions with brands. Social media allows prospective customers to ask questions and satisfied customers to advocate for the brand.
  • Personas: A company can’t market to their customers if they don’t understand them. Social media provides an opportunity for active listening, allowing brands to learn about their ideal customers and better communicate with them.

iPhone displaying the apps Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Create a Social Media Policy

Although social media plays an important role in productivity and marketing, it also presents unique risks. Several companies have damaged their online reputation by misusing social media.

One method that may prevent costly errors is to create a robust social media policy. Only about half of employees surveyed by Pew Research say their company has a defined social media policy, yet there is evidence to suggest policies mitigate risks.

A social media policy is a guide made by an organization to communicate appropriate and inappropriate social media use in the workplace. Policies typically attempt to prevent distractions as well as set standards for how a company should be portrayed online.

Organizations should clearly define the following in their social media policy:

  • Proprietary information that, if shared, could risk company security, legality, or competitiveness
  • Steps to avoid inauthentic brand representation from unauthorized professionals
  • Restrictions and definitions of illegal, inappropriate, inflammatory, or derogatory online behavior

Plans should designate employees to respond to negative sentiments lodged against brands online and review and resolve employee misbehavior.

Click or tap here to download our example social media policy

Please keep in mind that your company’s social media policy should be your own. Modify it to include any relevant policies, laws, or personnel.

Social Media Training and Best Practices

Social media is constantly growing and evolving. In order to remain up to date, marketers, human resources professionals, and company leadership should commit to continuing education and professional development.

Lorman offers several social media training courses based on industry standards and best practices. Enhance your social media strategy by exploring our course library.

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