Social Media Use is a Trust Issue

Image: Social Media Use is a Trust Issue

Approaches to Social Media Use

Many organizations today understand that social media can be leveraged to improve transparency, collaboration, productivity and knowledge transfer. However, in order to do so, you need to implement a social media strategy for your organization that is based on trust and that taps into employees’ innovation, creativity and enthusiasm.

There are three approaches that organizations can take in addressing social media use:

  1. Ban access to social networking sites
  2. Set limits and restrictions on use
  3. Allow unmonitored access

Your social media policy will be based upon the degree to which your organization and leaders trust employees. However, keep in mind that the ability to ban or restrict access to social media is becoming increasingly difficult. Many business tools (such as Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Office) now integrate various social networks into their software and the increased popularity of Twitter by heads of business and government officials  reflects how social media is becoming a standard tool for business communication.

Social Media & Your Organization

Most organizations that choose to severely restrict access to social media do so out of a fear that their brand will be negatively impacted by inappropriate posts that are deemed insensitive, racist, vulgar or that leak confidential information. Organizations that provide guidelines and training on how to properly use social media do so with a focus on increasing brand awareness through employee empowerment and trust.

Depending on your scope of influence, you may or may not be able to directly impact your organization’s formal social media policy. However, you can look for ways that your team can leverage social media tools in order to improve your ability to work collaboratively. Since a culture of trust is essential for high levels of employee engagement, performance and retention, restricting access to social media could lead to a higher turnover rate and lower employee engagement.

If you hire employees that you  trust, they can become ambassadors for your brand and will demonstrate the positive effects of a less rigid social media policy.

Encouraging Appropriate Social Media Use

You can encourage appropriate social media usage in your organization by:

  • Training employees on your policy and ensuring full understanding
  • Trusting employees to do the right thing
  • Encouraging timely responses to issues/posts
  • Encouraging employees to Tweet about team members to boost morale and positive comments about the organization
  • Mining social media sites to learn about customers and competitors

For more details on social media use, please see chapter 9 in Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills available at

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