If you would like to receive more of news and insights from our team sign up here.
Social media trolling has hit the headlines in a big way recently with bomb threats against journalists following on from earlier threats against an MP and a campaigner. Whilst these are extreme examples, the fact is that social media has now become a part of life and one thoughtless or careless post can cause considerable harm.
This means that businesses which have not developed a social media policy are potentially playing with fire as employees post seemingly innocuous but ultimately confidential information or post messages which may bring the organisation into disrepute. But social media can also be a tremendous force for good and those organisations looking to strengthen employee engagement or to improve customer relations can turn social media to their advantage.
In an increasingly social world we cannot escape the fact that facebook and twitter, e-mails and texts are an ever-present facet of life. Businesses which ignore this social revolution or try to ban the use of social media at work do so at their peril. But incorporating a social media policy within the company culture can present a challenge for leaders and managers. Permitting employees to engage in social media can seem somewhat akin to losing an element of control; but those leaders who can successfully build a culture of mutual trust in which employees act responsibly in the interests of the organisation can find their efforts richly rewarded.
Interestingly a Microsoft study released in June showed that 46% of employees reported increased productivity due to the use of social media at work and 37% of those surveyed felt they could be more productive if their managers supported the use of media tools. This survey is backed up by a two year study from Warwick University which concluded that using social media at work can enhance productivity. Warwick professor of information systems, Joe Nandhakumar said that the company which treats social media as a distraction should consider that “They said that about email. They said that about the telephone. Businesses should change – social media is a fact of life” adding that managers should instead work out how to make social media work for the organisation.
Allowing and even encouraging employees to use social media can not only improve engagement it can act as a force for good in terms of company reputation. Of course it is vital that employees are properly coached on the do’s and don’ts of social media use and particularly the need to respect privacy and confidentiality but with engaged employees actively promoting the organisation, social media can work to enhance the organisation’s reputation.
Equally when it comes to enhancing the dialogue between business and customers an organisation which ignores social media is an organisation which will finish up with disgruntled clients. Unhappy customers used to tell their friends, now they hit social media sites with their grumbles. Simple tracking programmes can be set to pick up these comments and this provides the organisation with an opportunity to jump on the complaint and turn it into a positive experience.
In fact so prevalent is the social media expectation nowadays that many people expect organisations to be looking out for complaints and when they are not picked up the problem is exacerbated. For example, one of our friends recently posted a tweet complaining about a pricing change from their mobile phone provider. Had the company in question tracked and picked up the tweet and responded they had a chance to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one. However, as they did not respond the friend has now moved their contract and told others about the experience.
As well as tracking social media comments, organisations can use social media as a way of engaging with and strengthening the loyalty of customers. From simple “retweet this and you may win a…” to “what additional flavour would you like us to produce” or “let us know what you think of our trial packaging”; every time a business engages with its clients it has the opportunity to strengthen the bond. And by seeking customer feedback and dialogue the business has the chance to provide a better, more exceptional level of service for its customers.
So yes, trolling is giving social media a bad name. But for every troll there are thousands of people happily engaging in social media as a force for good and if organisations can harness that power then the result can only be happy engaged employees and loyal customers who are receiving an exceptional level of service.