An interesting new study shows that social media still can’t get no respect in the workplace. According to a study by Robert Half Technologies, 54 percent of CIOs prohibit any social media use in the office. That’s a serious number.
Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis, conducted phone surveys of more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States who employ at least 100 employees. CIOs were asked one question:
Which of the following most closely describes your company’s policy on visiting social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, while at work?
Prohibited completely: 54%
Permitted for business purposes only: 19%
Permitted for limited personal use: 16%
Permitted for any type of personal use: 10%
Don’t know/no answer: 1%
I have to admit, in the age of Zappos, Comcast and Dell, I was a bit surprised to learn that more than half of CIOs have banned social media inhouse. Executive Director of Robert Half Technology Dave Willmer noted that the reason for the ban may be due to social media’s tendency to “divert employees’ attention” away from pressing work priorities in favor of communicating with friends. He’s right. It probably does to some degree. But it can also be an incredible customer retention and sales tool. And frankly, the folks misusing social media are probably the same ones checking email all day. If that’s the reason you’re shying away from social media, you’re not competing in today’s world.
Something that also caught my eye was the division between using social media for business use vs using it for personal use. Because they’re pretty much the same thing. The goal behind social media is to make your business personal. And if you don’t understand that, you’re going about it the wrong way.
This sentiment was also noted in a post by Heidi Miller where she shows how social media isn’t about the companies. It’s about the people behind them. Comcast isn’t on Twitter. Frank Eliason is. All the Dell representatives you meet have actual names and faces. We get the tidbits of their lives right along with the company agenda. That’s what people fall in love with. It’s the people behind these companies that make them interesting and make customers engaged and want to do business with them. By trying to separate business from personal, you lose a lot of that sentiment. You take the heart out of it.
I think in the next few years, we’re going to see social media being more and more accepted into the workplace. Truth is, there’s no greater customer relations tool out there.
The survey also offered some tips for protecting your professional reputation while on social media, including:
- Know what’s allowed
- Use caution
- Keep it professional
- Stay positive
- Polish your image
- Monitor yourself
I think it’s about talking to employees, instilling responsibility in their words and tweets, educating them on how to use social media correctly, but then also giving them room to be human. No one is positive all the time. No one is that polished. I don’t think employers should be leashing every single one of their employees into the world of social media, but there is a solid place for it and simply banning it from the workplace is not the way to go about it. Educate; don’t lag behind.