We’ve all heard the horror stories of someone losing their job because of something they’ve posted on social media that directly or indirectly left a mark on the company with which that person was employed. Whether or not you agree with the choices companies make to dismiss an employee for expressing themselves on social media isn’t the question we are going to tackle today, although we know people have a lot to say about those situations.
What we want to tackle today is to inform employers about how they can use social media as a way to gather feedback and collect data about their employees so that it is beneficial to everyone.
Let us be clear: we don’t mean creep their Facebook status updates to learn more about them, although we know there are plenty of human resource departments that aren’t opposed to doing so, especially during the hiring process.
No, we mean to teach you how to use social media in a complementary way to see if there are areas where you could improve your operation, from the perspective of your employees. Here’s how.
Pay Attention to How Employees Engage with Your Company Profile Online
It goes without saying that if you work for a company and that company has a social media presence, the way you interact with that company is going to be open for scrutiny and discussion.
Ultimately, if you are using social media for your company’s purpose and are representing the company in a bad light, there will be consequences.
But as a company trying to understand more about its employees through social media, you can take stock in what your employees are sharing and saying about your company online.
Look at the kind of material employees feel comfortable sharing. If you ever wondered if your employees agree with your tactics and strategies, news updates and announcements, you’ll be able to track that agreement based on the level of engagement they have with those social posts online.
If all you see and hear are crickets when you post something on social media, it might be because your employees don’t feel comfortable sharing that kind of material or they don’t want to share things about their work with their friends and family.
While it’s not what the boss wants to hear, especially a marketing manager, it is telling of what kind of materials you might want to share. How do you know? Ask your employees. It’s real-time data that you have access to and can use.
If someone chooses to engage with your social media post, you can measure it. But you can also measure lack of engagement, especially from an internal perspective.
Social Media Provides Feedback Loops and Idea Generation
Another thing social media can do for your company is to provide information about how your company can improve. If your employees are sharing information online about the company and others are engaging with it, perhaps in both positive and negative ways, you can use that information to create a feedback loop and welcome the opportunity to engage in a discussion with those people.
Of course, for every positive comment online, companies are burdened with more internet trolls than they can handle, so be wary of people who are just complaining to complain. Serious complaints will welcome the chance to talk to you and representatives of your organization to try to make things right.
You’ll know right away if someone has a genuine concern because they’ll welcome the conversation to dig into the problem.
When it comes to getting proper feedback loops in your company, you might be inclined to keep the conversation internal, but once you take your conversation to proverbial streets of the internet – social media – you’ll get much more candidate and dynamic information.
Review Your Social Media Policies
As an aside, it is worthwhile to discuss with your human resources department what the policies are around employees talking about the company and sharing company information online. If an employee unknowingly breaks a rule or crosses a line, it’s difficult to challenge.
But if you have informed everyone of the rules around using social media, particularly in relation to the company and how the company should be represented online, then you have every right to take action to correct issues in that area.
Here’s the kicker: if you want to scare your employees into saying nothing, thus leaving you with very little feedback about your organization, create a zero-tolerance policy about social media.
If, however, you want to foster conversation and candid discussions about the issues in the company, be a little more flexible with what is acceptable and what is not. It will open the doors to your organization to gain access to real-time data about your employees and their interpretation of their work-related life.