Categorized | Management, Technology

A Manager’s Guide to Social Media Policy

Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are all terrific ways of marketing a company…but they are also terrific ways to waste time.  Social media accounts for approximately 22% of our online time according to the social media examiner.  It’s doubtful that all that time is spent after work hours or on work related tweets.  Almost certainly people are spending time online during work posting, tweeting, or looking up old high school flames.  As a manager, however, what do you do?  You could ban all social media from officer computers, but will that result in greater productivity or in a sullen, unproductive environment.

There’s no easy answer, but here are five ‘types’ we’ve observed.  Which one are you?  Which is your manager?  What are the benefits and pitfalls of each type?

1.) Mr. Don’t Know.  Don’t Care

This is the manager who doesn’t Tweet, doesn’t FaceBook, and might be on LinkedIn because it’s ‘for business.’  They say ignorance is bliss, but willful ignorance of social media means not knowing anything about a vital element of communication today.  It might be fun to buck trends but it’s not always good management.  Imagine not having a computer or telephone or mimeograph machine?  Technology has always been with us, so start adopting today’s

2.)  The Iron Curtain

Waste of time.  Shut it all down.  Put up firewalls.  Block those sites.  Problem solved, right?  The problem is that you’ve shut down communication with the outside world and made your workplace a less desirable place to be.  It’s kind of like high school without the pep rallies.  Or prison without the shivs.

3.)  Loosey Goosey

It’s all good.  Do whatever you want.  Tweet.  Twitter.  Squawk.  Let’s all do this thing because…well, just tweet.  The problem here is that there is no work objective attached to social media or policy on social use.  No one would read a paper at their desk or gab on the phone all day with friends.  There are social norms with these older technologies so develop a few for the newer ones.

4.)   The Technocrat

Everyone must blog, must tweet, must post to FB about the following topics…

The intention here is good and might actually work.  The problem is that you’re in danger of shutting down free thought and creating an army of robots online.  That sounds more fun than it actually is.

5.) Good Cop.  Bad Cop

I’d love to give you guys access to FaceBook but the IT guy says there’s a danger of viruses.  No one’s buying it.  Even if it’s true, people aren’t stupid.  Why have 400 million users globally invited this huge Facebook threat into their homes.  Unless you’re working at the Pentagon, the threat from Facebook is minimal.

There’s no real right answer here.  Obviously each one of these approaches has flaws.  It’s best to use a mix of some of them.  Let people use Social Media.  Encourage them communicate aspects of their work.  Stay involved and active yourself.  Gently push and pull people in different directions.  Social media is becoming like an online society and society has unwritten rules.  The more you, as a manager, are involved in that society the more it will reflect your own workplace.

And just like the real world, you have to realize that you cannot control every aspect of employees’ lives.  Even at work.  We give leeway to professionals all the time realizing that our personal and professional lives sometimes overlap.  That life.  And work is part of life.

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Tim McPherson

By Tim McPherson

Tim McPherson, President and COO for Nesco Resource, has over 27 years of experience in all facets of the Staffing Services Industry.

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