A 2009 study found that 54% of companies banned Facebook and Twitter at work, according to Wired. It could be safe to say that percentage has likely plummeted substantially in the ensuing seven years, but there are almost certainly still organizations that don’t allow their employees to use social networks.
Their reasoning probably sounds something like this: “Social media is a waste of time.”
While there may be some truth to that statement, social media doesn’t always have to be a waste of time. In fact, a lot of good can result for businesses that maintain active social profiles and allow their employees to do the same.
On the fence about whether to allow your employees to use social networks at work? Here are five reasons why social media should never be banned at the office:
1. It gives employees a short mental break
You can’t reasonably expect your employees to show up to the office, head to their desks, and work nonstop for eight or nine hours.
From time to time, everyone needs a short break to recharge their batteries. Whereas officemates gathered around the water cooler to chat in years past, today’s office mingling takes place digitally on social media.
2. It can inspire constructive ideas
Let your employees browse social media periodically throughout the day and you never know what they’ll stumble across.
A lot of what they find will probably be mindless entertaining chatter. But every now and again, your employees will almost certainly come into contact with content that gives them a great idea for your brand. The better your employees are at navigating the choppy waters of social media, the more frequently these constructive ideas will emerge.
3. It keeps employees up-to-date on breaking news
News breaks on social media. Just take a look at this Mashable article from 2013 that chronicles, among other things, the fact that the news of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton first emerged on Twitter.
It’s definitely in your best interest for your employees to be on top of the latest developments in the world — both the good and the bad. By banning social media from your office, you’re making it that much harder for your team to stay current.
In some cases, breaking news (such as the prince’s engagement) can provide great marketing fodder that can help your brand capitalize on trending topics. Just be careful not to try too hard. And definitely don’t exploit tragedies.
4. It provides another way to engage with customers
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers live on social media. There’s no sense in preventing your employees from engaging with them on the platforms they are most comfortable with.
Do more than simply allow your employees to be on social media. Encourage them to create company-specific profiles. They then can use social networks to promote your brand, answer customer questions, and keep tabs on competitors.
5. It will demotivate your employees
According to our Employee Engagement Report, work culture is strongly correlated with employee happiness. If you allow your work culture to evolve to the point where social networks — which are literally used by billions of people — are “banned” from your office, odds are morale is going to take a hit for the worse.
Because employee happiness is a critical element of employee engagement, this is nothing to take lightly. Don’t make employee engagement any harder than it needs to be. Let your staff use social media (within reason), and you won’t have this problem.
Social media used to get a bad rap. But now sites like Twitter and Facebook have been around for longer than a decade. They’ve matured, and it’s time for your social media policy to do the same.