I recently browsed an article on LinkedIn “3 reasons why your company should pay its employees to use social media”. Full disclosure: the author of the article, Ryan Holmes, is the CEO of a company HootSuite which focuses on social media management. So this company may be a little biased because of their company goals, but I happen to agree with the arguments presented in this article.
Let’s take a look at the main points:
1. “It helps you hire better people” through social media. An employer can see how different candidates present themselves publicly on social media (both for better, and for worse). The application process is also public, anyone can see that person X is applying to HootSuite based on the tweets between the two parties. It keeps things public, and it keeps things honest.
2. “Social Media breaks down old hierarchies in the workplace”. Straight and Simple: If you’re using twitter you have 140 characters to work with. You might think that this would discourage people from saying anything to “the boss” because what can you possibly say? But instead it acts almost as an excuse to communicate. You become less worried about perfection, and more worried about the message. If it comes across a little weird at first “sorry boss, 140 characters ya know :/”. I’m not arguing for a complete lack of professionalism, my point is just that twitter allows people to be direct. When you’re on a work schedule and time is money, being direct can often get things done better and faster.
3. “It empowers employees to become brand evangelists”. Noticed how Mr. Holmes phrases that; it “empowers” employees, meaning that it enables them, not that they are being demanded to become brand evangelists. I think this is great. Even with companies that I may not be particularly enthusiastic about, if I see them doing a good thing, I want to share the message, and social media vastly enables consumers, employees and almost anyone to share the good news.
These are all great ideas, and I think they point to the main fact which makes social media so powerful and useful in such a complex world; social media demands honesty. We have seen it in huge ways. Remember Anthony Weiner and that debacle? It started on Twitter. Have you seen the video of the Walmart Employees throwing Ipads in a warehouse you have Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, among other sources to thank for being able to watch that little gem.
The point is that social media has the potential to spread honesty, and open peoples eyes to truth on all levels. It has the ability to empower low level employees to point out company wide problems to upper level management. Social media has and will continue to show us various oppression of human rights. Social media, can also be quite positive, enabling community members to heap praise on a local business, or allowing entrepreneurs to gather insights and feedback faster than ever before. Companies that take a long time to adapt to social media will be more likely to fail, not because they aren’t appealing to the “younger crowd” but because they can not comprehend the tremendous benefit of communication that follows when social media is properly implemented.