This may sound counter-productive but the time has come for businesses to consider NOT BLOCKING social media sites at the workplace. Social media has evolved from a medium of play to a medium of productivity with 90% of businesses using social media for business purposes.
When social media first gained traction the majority of the content was aimed at leisure and was blocked from companies as a productivity killer. Despite these blocks and filters the employees who would play on social media likely kept on playing. Unless a company completely banned personal device usage during work hours it only took an employee who was determined to update their status an extra few minutes to whip out their smart phone and post:
“ Company network can't keep me locked up! #DataPlan #MyPhone #IdidIt!
Your fun loving team members who were going to play found a way -- likely at the expense of EVEN MORE productivity from your company because it took them a little extra time to find their digital freedom.
For some companies there are legitimate legal or policy reasons to keep social media locked down -- but for many SMBs or companies with a more flexible Internet usage policy it might be time to update those policies and unblock social media sites.
Social Media can Help Businesses
Your IT Department probably already has pinholes in your social media blocking. Recruiters, human resources, C-Level, sales, and your marketing team all have legitimate reasons to freely access social media for business purposes. Think about the content they are researching and posting online. You have business partners, vendors, and associations that post information just as valuable to your employees as the information your team posts for others. Even the information your organization posts online is valuable for your own employees to consume and in a lot of ways social media is a better way to deliver that information than memos and internal email.
Of course we aren't advocating businesses unblock social media and leave your employees to their own devices. Prior to making the switch you will want to discuss the change with your HR and IT Departments. A revision of your companies' social media and Internet usage policies may be in order. Social media, like all Internet use within your company, should be for business purposes only.
Your expectation is for your employees to use social media at work to follow:
- Your company social media. This could be worth the change all by itself. Not only will you increase communication within your company but all the additional Likes and Follows boost your brand and image.
- Your customers. Just as you want your employees to know about their employer -- it is good for them to keep up with what is happening with your customers to help build relationships.
- Your vendors. Vendors may post information about product updates, technical issues, tips and tricks, and industry trends that can help productivity and to get the most of the products and services you receive from your vendors.
- Industry news. Following the organizations and associations of your industry will make your team better informed so they can deliver better goods and services.
As your employees are researching using social media they may possibly put out a personal update now and then. . . just like they check a text message or personal email or take a personal phone call now and then. Again, these are behaviors they are likely already doing but now they may at least be doing it in conjunction with business activities and not getting completely sidetracked like they were the first millennial to watch "The Goonies".