Like it or not, social media is ingrained in our society. From a once leisure activity for individuals to connect, organizations are now leveraging social media for low-cost, high impact marketing; reputation and relationship building; customer services and recruiting efforts to name a few. The desire to be heard, seen, make connections and satisfy our ever-shortening attention spans has presented an opportunity for organizations to engage in dialogic communication with audiences in a way never possible before.
We are now in an age where social media is the new traditional word of mouth. 71% of consumers are likely to purchase something based on referrals and opinions from their network on social media. That’s powerful.
But I think we’re all aware of content marketing trends and how social media is shaping advertising and consumer purchases, but what about internally?
A Harvard Business Review case study found that 82% of employees thought highly of social media usage within the organization and that it could help with collaboration, sharing of ideas and solving problems.
So why is it that more than half of U.S. employersblock social media at work? Well, there are several theories for this, but overall it seems as though organizations believe that social media usage during work hours will drive down productivity and retention.
I’ve found this to be untrue in my organization. Currently, I work for a small business with about 250 employees. Many of our employees work in government facilities that do block social media sites, but at our headquarters building and other free-standing locations, we leave those channels open. We understand that in a fast-paced world if we only work, we’ll burn out. We want our employees to have the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility to take a break from work every now and then to decompress and engage in what is going on in the rest of the world. We are so pro-social media that we even have an enterprise social networking site that connects only our employees.
My company also holds an external Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and newly developed Instagram account for our external audiences. These sites build our reputation in our communities and shows audiences that we live by our motto of taking care of each other. These platforms tell stories of our company achievements, our employee awards and recognition and our community service programs and we encourage our employees to engage with us actively on those sites.
These channels give faces to our organization and a heartbeat to the company. We build relationships and interact with other organizations in our community. Many of our employees follow us on external social media sites and proudly share our content with their friends and family. One way we leverage social media, and our network of followers, is to share open job postings. As an organization that focuses on a family-like feel for employees, we really value referrals. When we share job postings we see a large rise in likes, shares and comments. We have such positive relationships with our followers that they willingly share our postings and encourage friends and family to work for us. These are relationships we want to continue to cultivate so we never lose that referral flow. Although we don’t sell products and don’t realize the benefits of referrals for buying power, we do see it as we look to expand our workforce.
Internally, our company adopted Microsoft Office 365 in January 2017, which came with the once independent enterprise social networking application, Yammer. The addition of Yammer for my company was not an immediate win with our entire workforce, but it held the potential to help us stay connected as we grew geographically across the country. Even after showing the company how Yammer could connect us, there was still skepticism.
Now, nearly one and a half years after we opened the platform to employees, we have 200 of 246 employees participating in the network. On Yammer, we have 27 unique groups and countless likes, comments and shares each day. I’ve seen a company, built of mostly Baby Boomers and Generation Xers connect with one another over common likes and engaging content. This seemed to be the barrier at first with gaining traction — Non-digital natives. Baby boomers still only make up 9% of all Facebook users, so getting them onboard with a work social media platform has proved to be challenging. The bright side…Boomers enjoy sharing content; once they get used to the idea.
Over the past few years, my company has seen extreme growth. We seemed to have almost doubled overnight. The growth occurred in various states across the country. Yammer has allowed us to connect with other members of our corporate family without having met them. It allows for knowledge sharing of our gray beard experts to our green newbies.
We’re only a year into its usage, so I imagine the landscape of our internal social networking site will continue to change, hopefully for the good. Like I said, our goal is to keep our company connected no matter where we are in the country, or world for that matter. Yammer is a big part of helping us do that.
To learn ways that your organization can drive using Yammer, check out Microsoft Office 365 tutorials, like the one below on YouTube.