Formal SocNet Policies Offer Benefits

February 3, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | Social Media | Staffing | Youth & Gen X

Employers are putting themselves at potential risk and missing out on beneficial opportunities by neglecting to put formal policies regarding online social network use in place, according to [pdf] research by employment services provider Manpower Inc.

Employers Lack SocNet Policies

Manpower’s recent study, “Social Networks vs. Management? Harness the Power of Social Media,” indicates that 75% of employers worldwide say their organizations do not have a formal policy regarding the use of social networking sites at work. Only 20% of employers do have a formal policy, and only 63% of those say their policy is effective at avoiding productivity loss.

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In the Americas, 29% of employers have a formal policy regarding the use of social networking sites at work, and 69% do not.

Reputations Mostly Safe So Far

Despite widespread lack of formal policies, most employers both globally and in the Americas have not been negatively affected as a result of employees’ use of social networking sites. Globally, 89% of employers say they have not been negatively affected, and 4% say they have been negatively affected. In the Americas, 89% of employers say they have not been negatively affected, and 8% say they have been negatively affected.

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Suggestions for Leveraging SocNets at Work

Manpower recommends that organizations leverage the connective power of social networking to address the following issues:

  • Productivity – Social networking can be a productivity booster. For example, Best Buy recently launched “Twelpforce,” which equips customer service representatives with Twitter accounts they can use to answer customers’ questions.
  • Collaboration – Especially for younger workers, social networks can enhance collaboration and teamwork, even among employees who are remote from one another.
  • Knowledge Management – Companies can use social networking tools to create “communities” of interest,” groups of people connected by personal or professional interest in a particular subject matter. These efforts can prove especially valuable in capturing and transferring knowledge across organizational silos.
  • Innovation – Companies can use social networking tools to build channels to customers, academics and independent inventors who used to be hard to reach in a targeted and sustained way.
  • Employee Alignment/Engagement – Social media is particularly suited for communications intended to keep employees connected to an organization’s mission and vision. For example, leaders can use social media to establish and enhance a two-way dialogue with employees.
  • Recruitment – Social networks, particularly professionally oriented ones like LinkedIn, can be helpful for making business connections and recruiting prospective employees.

US Companies Need a ‘Twittervention’
Top US companies are missing out on a large portion of the potential Twitter holds for their businesses, according to a study from PR firm Weber Shandwick. A Weber Shandwick research paper entitled Do Fortune 100 Companies Need a Twittervention (pdf) indicates that while Corporate America is familiar with Twitter, it is not taking advantage of the full range of Twitter’s business capabilities.

The Twitter online social network has an estimated 20 million US users and 50 million users worldwide. Yet according to Weber Shandwick, while 73% of Fortune 100 companies registered a total of 540 Twitter accounts, 76% of those accounts do not post tweets often, and 52% are not considered actively engaged as measured by engagement metrics such as numbers of links, hashtags, references and retweets.

Moreover, 50% of Fortune 100 accounts had fewer than 500 followers, 15% were inactive or used as placeholders to protect against the “brand-jacking” (or unauthorized use) of a company name, and 4% were abandoned after a specific event. Some 41 accounts not included in the study group of 540 accounts appeared to be brand-jacked accounts using a brand name without authorization.

Enterprises Unprepared for SocNet Threat

Unchecked social network use poses a threat to enterprise organizations, according to research by Cisco. A recent Cisco global study indicates only one in seven of the companies that participated in the research notes a formal process associated with adopting consumer-based social networking tools for business purposes. In addition, one in five participants identified any policies in place concerning the use of consumer-based social networking technologies in the enterprise, and only one in ten respondents noted direct IT involvement in externally facing social networking initiatives.

About the Study: Manpower surveyed nearly 34,400 employers worldwide about their social networking policies.

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