There's rarely a question of the value of social media when it comes to company branding, but opinions are divided on its place in day-to-day operations for employees. According to a BlueGlass article from October, 54% of businesses block social media at the office. The reasons for doing so include increased vulnerability to viruses, loss of productivity and, more often than not, a lack of true understanding of the potential power of social media for businesses. Social media can definitely be a distraction to employees, but when used effectively it can be an invaluable tool for productivity. (For related reading, see 4 Companies Behind The Social Media Curtain.)

SEE: Investment Scams

Employee Communication
Workers who communicate easily, accurately and quickly have the best chance at being productive and effective. As those who grew up using instant messaging and other online contact systems advance in the business world, why not take advantage of their fluency in these communication technologies? Consider implementing an instant messaging system like MSN messenger or Adium, systems that your workforce will be comfortable adapting to if they don't use it already. This strategy probably won't replace face-to-face meetings, but it can be helpful in reducing those one-line emails or quick phone question situations.

Keeping Informed
News no longer travels in quite the same way. In January 2011, the world was flooded with tweets, photos and video from the Egyptian riots over services like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Traditional media sources fought to keep up with the raw information that was being transmitted live through the Internet. While your business may not be in the news sector, awareness of competitor activity and major events in your field can be invaluable to have, sooner rather than later. Encouraging your employees to follow the news trends that will be relevant to your business can be a big advantage. (For more information, check out 5 Emerging Social Media Companies You Need To Know.)

Workplace Morale
No one likes to feel like they aren't trusted, and your employees are no exception. At the end of the day, if five minutes is spent reading an answer to a question on Quora or a few pages on StumbleUpon make for a more relaxed and informed employee, then that may be worth it in and of itself. Of course, there will always be those who take advantage of such leniencies. According to a study by PaloAlto Networks, employees have increased their active social media time at work by 300% in the latter half of 2011.

Unchain Your Workers
Companies are starting to understand the brand value of social media, but aren't always sure how to go about implementing and maintaining that image. There are many highly qualified individuals who specialize in social media branding and who can be real assets to your company. If you can't dedicate that much of your resources to the process, consider approaching your media-savvy employees and shifting their roles to include the company profiles. Just remember, as with any profession, there is a difference between a casual user and one who is focused on brand management.

The Bottom Line
Most companies can benefit from social media use in the office – it's just about setting reasonable limits and making the technology work for you rather than against you. The first step to achieving that goal is to understand the services and how they work for companies. Loss of productivity and system vulnerability to viruses or spam are legitimate concerns and must be mitigated as risks. Loss of productivity will show up as a lack of results, and safety measures should be in place for data protection. Many companies monitor the online activity of their employees. However, allowing social media's positives to be used effectively could be the difference between keeping up and falling behind in your business. (To learn more about social media, read Top Social Media Entrepreneurs.)

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    What’s Plaguing Twitter and Yelp?

    Yelp and Twitter have recently become grounded in reality and unable to justify their sky-high stock valuations.
  2. Investing

    Three Companies That Will Benefit From Online Gaming

    Certain companies stand to benefit from the increasing popularity of the online gambling industry in the U.S., as well as its expanding legalization.
  3. Professionals

    10 Must-Follow Broker-Dealers on Social Media

    Stay in the financial markets 'know' by following these influential independent broker-dealers on social media.
  4. Investing

    Dick Costolo Biography

    Dick Costolo is a very polarizing man – half the world credits him with saving Twitter Inc. (TWTR) from its own popularity and making initial investors rich while the other half blames him for ...
  5. Investing

    How Twitch.tv Works and Its Business Model

    Can someone make money by playing video games? Twitch offers money making for both the company and the gamers. Here’s how it works.
  6. Investing

    Should You Trust a Robot to Manage Your Money?

    Robo-advisors offer several benefits, but should investors trust a computer to manage their investments?
  7. Stock Analysis

    This Is Why Instagram Is Winning Over Flickr

    Learn about Instagram's and Flickr's business models. Understand why Instagram has been winning over Flickr and why that trend is likely to continue.
  8. Investing

    The Role of YouTube In the Music industry

    A look into YouTube's role in the music industry in regards to the fans, the musicians and the record industry.
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    An Inside Look at Pinterest's Business Model

    Learn about Pinterest and the type of company it is trying to become. Understand the company's business model and what makes it unique.
  10. Stock Analysis

    3 Social Media Networks Competing With Facebook

    Learn how the biggest competitors to Facebook in 2015 are Google+, the Chinese instant messaging service QQ and picture-sharing app Snapchat.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Venture Capitalist

    An investor who either provides capital to startup ventures or ...
  2. Social Networking Service (SNS)

    SNS stands for “social networking sites.” SNS users create a ...
  3. Millennial

    A name given to the generation born between 1982 and 2004. The ...
  4. Social Sentiment Indicator

    A measurement based on aggregated social media data that helps ...
  5. S-Score

    A numerical value that encapsulates how consumers and investors ...
  6. Crowdfunding

    The use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Who are Facebook's (FB) main competitors?

    Among the hundreds of online social media sites on the Internet, sites that compete directly with Facebook (FB) include Instagram, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Who are Google's (GOOG) main competitors?

    Google is a technology company providing products and services to organize information. Google, Inc. (GOOG) was founded in ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does Facebook (FB) make money?

    Facebook Inc. (FB) reported third quarter 2014 financial results on October 28, 2014. The company reported total revenues ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does Twitter (TWTR) make money?

    Twitter (TWTR) earns 85% or more of its revenue from advertising. In the second quarter of 2014, Twitter posted an advertising ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is a "twinternship"?

    A twinternship is a slang term used to describe an internship that encompasses the use of social media, such as Twitter and ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!