Social media has completely changed the way we communicate inside and outside the workplace. It has lessened the need to pick up a phone or draft a letter and made connecting with people around the world as easy as logging into an account or app. There are 4.2 billion people on social media worldwide, and 82% of the U.S. population has a social networking profile.
Social media platforms also present a plethora of opportunities for business. Between employee communication, recruiting and employer branding efforts, organizational learning and even public relations, social media can streamline countless company initiatives in real time. In fact, 82% of employees believe social media can improve their work relationships, and 60% think it can expedite better decision-making.
In the post-Covid workplace, social media has become synonymous with keeping teams connected. It’s an important tool for employee engagement and communication, and this article breaks down how employers can use it to their advantage.
Benefits of Social Media in the Workplace
Increased Employee Engagement
Using social media to boost employee engagement is a logical next step in the evolution of employee communication. Since most employees are already on several platforms, picking the ones that address your company’s specific employee engagement goals can help you fine tune your plan.
For instance, focus on an internal company Facebook page to share updates and interesting articles, rely on Twitter to share breaking, bite-sized information or company trends, and turn to LinkedIn to encourage employee referrals and reviews about the company. Offering multiple channels for employees to engage with the organization provides continuous connection to your company and improved employee engagement over time. Communications no longer need to be one way – encouraging feedback, testimonials and interaction will lead to greater involvement.
Rather than communicating in a formal and often unrelatable way, tap into the culture of employees by communicating in the way they prefer. For companies with a younger workforce, shorter snippets with visual components that social media offers can be very appealing.
Strengthened Workplace Relationships
There are no more missed connections with social media on board. Employees who may have otherwise skipped out on the “water cooler chat” can have casual (and professional) conversations on social media. All in all, this helps build healthy workplace relationships and is an immediate method for employees to connect with their colleagues inside and outside the office. That means improved camaraderie, team bonding and overall company culture.
Promotion of Company Culture
To show the “human” side of your organization, it’s important to increase the visibility of your unique employer brand. Social media is a tool that can easily help spur this process along. By encouraging staff to share updates from within your company or job postings to their networks, you can open up an authentic communication channel that helps the outside world see why it’s so rewarding to work at your company, which can help with recruiting.
Enhanced Employee Communication
Instead of leaving it up to the standard “all employee” emails, social media lets you take a targeted approach to employee communications. By creating groups on social networks, you can facilitate communication to teams across geographical locations and allow opportunities for actual interaction (versus simply reading it and filing it away).
Particularly when it comes to benefits communication, social media is a powerful way to share plan information, budget updates, open enrollment deadlines, time-sensitive updates and much more. And, unlike other traditional communication channels, social media offers your employees an opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions in real time.
How to Use Social Media in the Workplace
Social media is an entire communication ecosystem, so setting some parameters around how to use it in the workplace can help you stay in line with your overarching employee communication goals.
Pick a Platform
With too many platforms at play, you can lose sight of your employee engagement levels and how well your team is working together. Using social media management software like Workplace by Facebook or Slack can help you build your own workplace network to foster a sense of community online.
When thinking about which social media platform(s) to pick, it’s important to:
- Set clear communication goals. What do you want your workplace social media initiatives to help you achieve?
- Be mindful of privacy and security. Your employees are your biggest assets, so be sure whichever platform you pick keeps their data and your documents safe and confidential.
Create a Social Media Policy
There’s a fine line between personal and professional social media use, so drafting a firm workplace social media policy is crucial. It’s best to leave nothing open to interpretation. Document this policy and share it with your employees so everyone is accountable for their online behavior.
When creating a workplace social media policy, it’s important to:
- Distinguish between personal and professional use. Be clear about your expectations beneath each category.
- Use clear examples: Make things black and white by offering real-life examples of where you draw the line.
Share Company-Wide Messaging Guidelines
Create clear guidelines for how you expect your employees to represent you on social media, what type of messaging is encouraged and how they can share your employee culture in a positive, inspiring way. Not to say you’ll force a fake image on everyone, but let their posts be a natural representation of your working environment. If you’ve done a good job at fostering an employee culture you can be proud of, this should happen organically. Many platforms allow approval before posts can be added for public viewing to ensure that communication is kept appropriate.
When creating company-wide messaging guidelines, it’s important to:
- Be concise. Resist the urge to inundate your team with a mile-long list of cheesy corporate slogans or inauthentic talking points. Guide them on how to create their own compelling content.
- Be amicable. This isn’t about giving out orders or restrictions, it’s about encouraging employees to be professional when they speak about your company.
Map Out Your Content
There are several ways your company can take advantage of social media to communicate benefits information and other compelling content.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Reminders about Open Enrollment deadlines
- Short videos, blogs or posts explaining plan change
- Tweets, Instagram or Facebook posts about frequently asked questions or commonly used terms
- Money-saving tips for healthcare and prescription use
- Covid-19 vaccination clinic updates, hours and other cost-free care opportunities
- “How to” tips, i.e. “how to submit a claim online”
- Information on voluntary benefits
- Retweeting or sharing plan policies or pertinent documents directly from vendors
Offer Opportunities for Ongoing Training
Especially if you have an assortment of generations in your workplace, it’s important to offer training opportunities to get everyone on the same page with social media.
Social media training is an important part of the process, and executing it appropriately means:
- Finding a trainer who’s familiar with your industry. Social media use can vary drastically from industry to industry, so finding a trainer or specialist in your field can narrow down the most relevant considerations for your company.
- Running sessions on an ongoing basis: Social media policies and best practices are constantly evolving, so it’s important to offer even bite-sized sessions to keep everyone updated early and often.
Let Social Media Enhance Your Employee Communication Strategy
Whether it’s to connect employees who are isolated and working remotely, promote important events like Open Enrollment, explain impending changes in an engaging way or educate employees on how to maximize their benefits, including social media in your internal communication strategy can help you harness the power of today’s most popular communication channel and use it to stay connected to your people.