Most organizations have strict social media policies, either severely restricting how and when employees can post or banning the use of social media altogether. Many organizations are not keen on loosening their grip on their presence on the web, and worry that allowing their employees to discuss their organization online will deteriorate their image and reputation. I, however, am against this common viewpoint and think the use of social media on the job can and should be allowed (gasp!). Letting employees use social media for work purposes can have very positive outcomes both for employees and customers/patients.
One of the main benefits of social media use is that it allows individuals to communicate directly with an organization. While many organizations have a corporate Facebook or Twitter account to interact with their customers or patients, few allow individual employees to create professional accounts. Imagine how powerful a direct connection with employees could be. An individual planning on shopping at an electronics store could reach out online for a personalized recommendation. A nurse discharging a patient could check in the next day to make sure medication was taken or if there were any issues. This direct connection could dramatically improve both customer and patient satisfaction.
In addition, social media usage can have a major impact on customer service issues. Let me use an example that has been quite popular over the last few years (including in this blog): The “United Breaks Guitars” YouTube video. This video had millions of hits and thousands of comments. However, none of these comments were actually from employees of United addressing the complaints in the video. Imagine how this negative situation could have been turned around if hundreds of United employees had commented on the video, discussing the improvements they’ve made based on the video, how much they like United, and what customers should expect when they choose to fly with United. On a smaller scale, a customer posting a negative experience about an organization could receive an immediate direct message from an employee of that organization offering his or her apologies and a coupon code for a discount on future purchases.
By allowing employees to communicate directly with consumers, organizations not only improve customer service, but can also improve employee engagement. Employees want to see that they are making a difference and that their organization treats customers well. By directly interacting with customers and hearing about positive outcomes, an employee’s pride in the organization can improve dramatically, which in turn raises his or her engagement level.
Some may worry that employees will get their organization in trouble by releasing unauthorized statements or making inappropriate comments. To counter this, let employees know the expectations of creating and using a professional social media account, including what topics are appropriate and how to best interact with clients. In addition, when telling employees about developments within the organization, make sure to let them know whether or not news is private or can be shared privately.
When it comes to the internet, the more hits, likes, posts, follows, and tweets, the better. Enlisting employees to help spread positive messaging about your organization can only help to improve your organization’s online presence, as well as reputation, customer and patient satisfaction, and employee engagement.