Why Employers Fear Social Media (And What to Do About It!)

Reason #1:  Wasted Time Amongst Employees

Let’s face it, social media sites are becoming more mainstream and the talk around water coolers across the world.  Employees are linked both professionally and socially across platforms like Facebook throughout the day, and mostly during work hours.

Whether employers block access to certain sites from the corporate servers or not, workers are using smartphones (i.e. Blackberry & Palm) to access the internet and the sites they want.  Twitter “tweets” and LinkedIn updates occurring from these types of devices are happening on lunch breaks, during meetings, from the bathroom… and there’s no stopping it.

Bottom line, if an employee wants to access their social networks during the daily “9to5” there’s no way to stop it.  Allowing workers access to the internet but trying to block these types of sites is simply pointless.

Reason #2: Social Comments Might Hurt the Brand

A question that pops up in executive workshops all the time is the threat of bad publicity spreading to the mainstream.  This type of negative feedback about the brand is feared to ultimately hurt sales.

Well… that’s exactly true!  But what CEOs don’t want to fess up to is that sometimes negative feedback is exactly what they need to hear.  It’s easy for the “ivory tower” to forget that their company might have inherent problems or that consumers don’t absolutely love everything about them.  As they saying goes, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists.

Besides, the upside of social media for honest and upstanding companies is that their supporters are online to support them.  If there’s a negative statement about their products or service that aren’t true, the power of a client to correct the misinformation directly often holds far greater weight than a published corporate statement.

Companies need to monitor brand attacks but view them as opportunities, not threats.

Reason #3: Companies Will Lose Control of Their Brand

The fact remains that in this day and age consumers hold the power, not PR departments.  Long gone are the days of “wag the dog” marketing tactics.  With open access to the internet, the game has changed.  If you think your customers aren’t already talking about you, you’re dead wrong.

Workers are spreading news about the company amongst friends and family through Facebook, emails and personal blogs.  Clients are using Twitter and sites like Yelp (among others) to leave positive or negative feedback about your brand and there’s no stopping it.

So what do you do about it?  Treat each and every employee and customer like an ambassador for your brand.  Providing avenues to generate loyal and lasting customers have never been more important than in the internet age.  And don’t fear the conversations, JOIN THEM!

Reason #4: Keeping Up With Social Media Is Expensive

There is a misconception that social media is absolutely free, and to some extent, this is true.  The reality is that for an employer to effectively participate in social media and monitor their online presence does take at least some resources.  But these don’t have to include a budget line item.

Whether it’s the time spent by staffers tracking feedback across different social media sites or hiring consultants to maintain your presence for you, there is a cost factor.  But just because there are people highly trained in the art of social media science doesn’t mean that you should run right out and hire outsiders.

Many times an outsourced affiliate doesn’t know the inner workings of your operation and can post statements that aren’t all-together factual.  And it is these same firms that will ultimately end up costing you the most money and risk hurting your brand.  Corporations are often better served by empowering existing employees to make social posts.  If they’ve done their job properly training their staff, there shouldn’t be a major concern of information leaks or negative comments.  Chalk the time spent by employees on these social network sites as a necessary operating expense.  Ultimately, the return on investment is well worth it.    

Reason #5: With “No Control” They Risk a Lawsuit

This is the biggest fallacy I’ve ever heard.  Social media was never meant, or presently considered to be, cold-hard fact.  The entire basis of social media is the spread of opinion.  Whether it’s stemming from a current or past customer or originating right within the corporate walls, it’s nothing that would ever give a plaintiff a leg to stand on! 

Those that believe they’ll get sued for what’s posted in forums, blogs or other such sites are going to have a hard time coping in modern day since public opinion is now spread more rampantly than ever.  Assuming your employees are spreading blatant lies about you (and if they are, you have much bigger problems to worry about!) then you simply don’t need to lose the sleep over it.

Reason #6: The Fear of Information Leaks From Within

The remedy to this concern is two-fold:

  1. If you don’t already have a policy for social media use amongst employees, write one up TODAY!  This way your staff will know what’s expected from them and it gives the company a means of protection in the case of a disgruntled employee gone wild.
  2. Train your employees all the way down the line about how to talk to customers and best represent your goodwill.  By instituting good hiring practices and on-going training you should never have to fear a loose-lipped staffer who doesn’t understand what expected of them.
About David Wittlinger

Gummy Bear addict. Web designer. Copywriter. Social Media Strategist.