That’s right, I said it. You should encourage your employees to use Facebook while at work to talk about work-related information. Sounds backwards, I know. Don’t just write this off as the latest Generation-Y propaganda for a better work environment. Let me explain.
By The Numbers
On average, Facebook friend networks are 34 times larger than actual company page fan groups. This means any post or update from an employee’s personal profile reaches 34 times more eyeballs than that same announcement would from your company page. Then multiply that by how many employees you currently have who are on Facebook, each with their own unique network of friends, and you start to see the potential reach your business could capitalize on from a single piece of information.
This isn’t just speculation. A recent study conducted by the University of North Carolina shows a direct correlation between an increase in a company’s reach when hiring an employee with an active Facebook profile.
You see, for us, millennials updating the world on our lives through the array of social media outlets has more or less become second nature. It is what we do. Work is an important part of our lives like everything else, and for us posting updates on office news is no different that bragging about who we’re dating or sharing our plans for the weekend.
Keep It Casual
These employee messages now should be subtle. Think less about a company-endorsed product plug and more about a casual, face-to-face conversation. This isn’t an advertisement. It’s a discussion. This discussion, however, happens to not be with one singular person, but instead an entire contact list of prospects.
A simple “Hey, we at [company name] just rolled out a new [product] that I’m super excited about, check it out!” would more than suffice. As humans, we are naturally more receptive to recommendations from trusted friends over sponsored testimonials. Society bombards us with ads every day, and inevitably they all begin to blend together.
Think of your own life and the last time a friend of your’s recommended you try something new. How much more receptive were you to that idea than one from a television commercial you saw? Facebook is no different. We see our friends and recommendations they give and cannot help but be naturally curious as to how it could potentially improve our own lives.
Let’s Not Fool Ourselves
The blatant elephant in the room would be that employees are already doing this. A lot. If you were to scan through any given Facebook user’s news feed you would be alarmed how many work-associated comments you would read. It happens everywhere. Your firm is not immune. By encouraging the posting of positive, company-related content you are not only earning serious brownie points with your employees (by being the ‘cool’ boss that permits Facebook to use) but essentially taking advantage of an already existing and untamed trend.
What are the other alternatives? Regardless of company policy, most employees will log on to some social platform at some point during the day. There is only so much monitoring you can do to prevent this. Short of straight up blocking the Facebook homepage on your network entirely, employees will find ways somehow, sometime. So, what most employers have come to see as an epidemic plaguing their workplace, you could reframe as your next management breakthrough.
Laying The Ground Rules
This is not to claim that potential concerns do not exist. Certain ground rules should most definitely be laid. Obviously, the posting of private or sensitive information should be firmly prohibited. This almost goes without saying.
Other worries point towards a less productive staff. The most effective approach to mitigating this concern would be to establish an open dialog between you and your workers. Emphasize that allowing the occasional Facebook use during work hours means the remainder of time should most definitely be dedicated to effective, distraction-free work. Most employees would be more than accepting of this.
I would also give fair warning that everything they do say to the online world, both work-related and personal, has the potential to eventually get back to management. Even if employees believe they have effectively covered their tracks, information trickles through sometimes in the most unlikely of ways.
For example, my father once had a disgruntled employee whose spouse posted nasty comments about the partners and firm to her Facebook account. The firm’s office manager who was Facebook friends with said wife happened to see this rant in her personal news feed. As you can imagine, the situation did not bode well for that employee’s long term future with the firm.
Like anything else, you must to be smart about what content you put up online. Everyone is connected one way or another, and social networks like Facebook are the fabric of this interconnectivity.
Taking The Next Step
Implementing any new trend into an office comes with both appeals and drawbacks. Like anything else, a solid risk/reward analysis is the best approach in determining if a controversial policy would work in your firm.
Do your homework. Analyze your market. Get to know your employees. After it’s all said and done and you see the potential for a simple, zero-cost marketing method that gives you a leg up on your competitors, then encouraging work-related Facebook usage might just be the next idea to revolutionize your business.
What do you think, would you be willing to try this controversial idea at your company?
Please share your comments below.
Reference: UNC Study