With 31 million Facebook users and over 10 million Twitter users in the UK, it’s safe to say social networks are well and truly a part of the digital landscape. The spread of social media use has offered great opportunities for large and small businesses as like but it’s not always a marriage made in heaven when the two combine. The Unum Employee Benefits team has conducted a study of social media use in the workplace – find out where you fit into the landscape as well as examples of both the benefits and potential pitfalls that we can all take head of.
Social Done Right
You don’t have to be Kraft with a million-dollar marketing budget to create a really successful social presence. Some of the biggest successes have come from small businesses with a unique and creative approach.
Arena Flowers, the ethical flower merchant, has found success in a competitive landscape by abandoning the traditional Twitter strategies of providing customer service or even being remotely relevant. They’ve created a uniquely random and amusing voice which has allowed them to stand out, collect far more followers than they would otherwise have and promote their brand.
When you’re asked what your weaknesses are at a job interview, look lovingly into their eyes, place your hands on theirs and say: “You”.
— Arena Flowers (@ArenaFlowers) September 27, 2012
Smaller still, the owner of the Fallowfields Hotel in Oxfordshire created an engaging personality on Twitter with tweets that went beyond mere self-promotion and gave people something they would actually be interested in. Examples include:
#DidYouKnow No words in the English language rhyme with silver
— Anthony Lloyd (@FallowfieldsUK) June 11, 2013
#WeddingLore In Holland, a pine tree is planted outside the newlyweds’ home as a symbol of fertility and luck
— Anthony Lloyd (@FallowfieldsUK) June 10, 2013
Relaxed, interesting and personal. This approach drove over £150,000 in new business over 18 months – proof social media can improve your business without huge budgets.
The Pitfalls of Social
It’s not all tea and crumpets when it comes to businesses and social media though. Big or small, many companies have a legitimate concern that they’re employees will be too distracted by networks like Facebook and Twitter and that their productivity will drop.
With a study showing that 67% of UK businesses block access to Facebook and 62% prevent employees from accessing YouTube it’s clear that social networks are a major concern to employers. While it’s clear that a member of staff spending all day chatting away on Facebook or watching video after video on YouTube, is it necessarily the best decision to completely block access?
A survey by the data analytics firm Evolv suggests that employees who use social networks may not be the unproductive dead weights you might have thought – responses collected from 100,000 call centre workers suggest the ultra-social (those who use over 4 networks) are the most productive and stay in their jobs the longest.
Social media use is obviously a hot topic and needs to be handled delicately but a straight out ban may not be the best option.
The Social Media Disasters
There have, predictably, been some absolutely spectacular social media failures. From questionable judgement to rogue employees; there is a catalogue of errors to choose from.
Like the online clothing store, CelebBoutique, that posted this tweet in the immediate aftermath of the Aurora school shooting:
“#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress 😉 Shop: celebboutique.com/aurora-white-pleated-v-neck-strong-shoulder-dress-en.html ”
A social media backlash followed and the company was compelled to offer a swift and embarrassing apology
Even the giants can get it wrong – like McDonalds when they attempted to launch the hashtag ‘#McDStories’. It was hardly unforeseeable that it would be hijacked by Twitter users with tweets like:
One time I walked into McDonalds and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up.#McDStories
— Skip Sullivan (@SkipSullivan) January 18, 2012
So where do you fall into the social media landscape? Does your business have a relaxed approach to social media use or are you on the strict side of things? Take a look at the infographic below to see whether you’re in the majority or minority.