This article is part of our Digital Marketing for Workspace series
In the workplace, there’s a constant tussle between traditional management methods and more progressive alternatives. One such battleground is social media.
There are organisations that ban certain social media channels, believing it a distraction to the workforce. However, with approximately 9 in 10 U.S. companies using social media as a marketing tool (eMarketer, 2014), organisations can no longer afford to shut it out.
Furthermore its uses have evolved beyond marketing. Social media is now a customer service tool, a communications medium, an internal messaging format for staff, and more. Indeed, for every ‘top 10′ list of reasons why social media should be banned in the workplace there is a counter-list expressing its benefits.
While flexible workspace operators wouldn’t dream of restricting their clients’ access to social media channels, their own staff policies may be different. Do you allow your receptionists or business centre managers access to Facebook or Instagram during work hours? Is it part of your wider marketing strategy? Or do you see it as a distraction?
Opinions vary widely. For Jason Downes from conference call software company PowWowNow, social media can – and should – be utilised as a productivity tool within the workplace.
He commented: “Some employers see social media as a hindrance to productivity and a prime tool for procrastination. However, when it’s managed correctly, it can greatly improve workplace efficiency, both in terms of employee morale and business processes.”
Here, Jason explains 4 ways in which social media can be used as a productivity tool:
- Easing the workload
To support workload, social media can be used by employees for business processes. A 2013 study by Microsoft found 46% of employees say their productivity has improved because of social tools, which they use to communicate with colleagues, share documents and liaise with customers and clients.
In this study, ‘social tools’ are defined as instant messaging, text messaging, video conferencing, news feeds, social networks, and team sites such as SharePoint. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can also be used to connect with clients and suppliers, as well as to keep in touch with coworkers.
- Boosting morale
In a less direct sense, allowing employees to engage with personal social media accounts during working hours has also been proven to boost productivity.
In another study (2016) by Microsoft and the University of California Irvine, researchers discovered that checking Facebook during working hours was like taking a ‘mini break’, and that employees returned to their work tasks with better focus and efficiency afterwards.
Allowing social media during working hours is in-keeping with modern workplace attitudes. Trust your employees, and they’ll want to earn your trust – it could improve your company’s workflow.
- Making business processes more efficient
Social media provides many avenues for external business use, as it gives entrepreneurs direct access to a large audience. Using an account like Facebook or Twitter to form an online connection with new, prospective or existing customers means you can communicate with them quickly and easily.
This is useful in a variety of ways. In terms of business activity, you can advertise new products or promotions instantly, for free, just by writing a simple post. It also gives businesses a platform to provide customer service. Inviting your followers to raise queries through a channel like Twitter or Facebook chat can increase response speed and improve customer satisfaction.
- Boosting brand identity and awareness
In a wider sense, social media allows businesses to build brand awareness and trust. You can communicate casually with the people who like and support your brand, learning about their interests and showcasing your brand identity.
Asking questions, responding to queries and sharing content that you know your audience will be interested in allows you to develop a relationship with your followers. By maintaining a strong social media presence, you can build a trustworthy and authoritative brand image.
“Just like with any business process, it’s important to manage the way your company uses social media. Having a clear understanding between you and your employees can improve productivity and boost workplace morale, making everyone happier.
“Social media platforms can also be used to streamline advertising and customer service, as well as shape your brand identity, to create a strong and reliable online presence.”