In many ways, social media is the defining characteristic of the information age. It has transformed the way people communicate, market their products and services, and it has brought a litany of issues into the public consciousness. On the other side of the coin, social media currently costs many business billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of social media, and how your business can put yourself in a net-positive position regarding the technology.
The benefits of social media are numerous and far-reaching. The first we have to mention is that it is social, meaning that the people who would buy a company’s products or services are on there. So, no matter what kind of marketing and advertising a business has done up until the advent of social media, the platforms are an absolute game-changer for these companies. In fact, studies show that about half of all adults use more than one social media application. This provides businesses with the exposure they need to be successful.
Another benefit of social media is the information businesses and consumers get about the other. For instance, being able to understand what people like/dislike or products they will/won’t buy is extremely useful for any business. On the other hand, it helps individuals have direct access to the company on a platform of their choosing, which is a major benefit for them.
Additionally, social media is free to use for the most part, but there are options to target specific groups of people (people who would me most apt to have interest in your product/service). This give the business the exposure they want while providing the following benefits:
- Knowledge about customers/prospects
- Interaction with customers/prospects
- Increased traffic to a company website or store
- Increased sales leads (and therefore increased sales)
- Promotion of a business’ authority
- Promotion of a business’ willingness to help others
- And many more
Anything that comes with that much benefit has to have some drawbacks, right? One of social media’s drawbacks for businesses comes from the fact that every platform is constantly changing. Since your workers are the some of the people that utilize social media, you are going to be forced into making some difficult decisions about how to utilize these platforms effectively.
Another issue that many businesses run into is that social media investments are hard to quantify. Sure, you know how much money you spend in it, but getting an exact ROI figure is more difficult than with other forms of digital advertising. This is because social media, while having direct access to customers, can often take a bit of time to return any immediate sales; or, it can be impossible to know given that it only kind of facilitates a conversation between a company and the consumer, rather than a direct sales conversation. As a result, it can me more difficult to truly manage conversions that start on social media.
The worst effect that social media has on a business is far-and-away from employee use. Every business relies on consistent productivity. Social media often presents a roadblock to this as most people that work at a computer utilize at least one social media service and have a tendency to liberally access their social media in the workplace. The more time they are spending on social sites, the less time they are focusing on their work, which can have major negative effects on an organization’s ability to meet its demands.
Some businesses have gone so far as to create scheduled times for their staff’s social media use. Business owners have learned that social media is important to their employees, so providing a set time for them to get whatever they need to get done on social media can keep the organization as a whole productive. Anything they have to do to keep from spending thousands or even millions in missed productivity because of social media can really benefit the organization’s bottom line.
How to Manage Social Media Use
Since a lot of businesses today utilize social media for their own marketing purposes, the people that run these strategies need constant access. Beyond them, however, it is very much up to management to manage the amount of access employees have to social media.
One strategy that has become popular is a soft ban on social media. Outside of the people using it for the company’s benefit, all other employees have their social sites blocked on network attached devices. This allows the employee to use their own devices to access social media, but since it isn’t available on their work machines, they tend to spend less time perusing these sites.
Another, more stringent option is to completely outlaw social media use at work. While this strategy would have the desired effect of removing social media as a distraction, it could backfire on management. This is because many of today’s workers come to depend on their social media accounts to keep in touch with the people that mean the most to them. By removing this option, you may find that it causes some of your more technology-savvy employees to seek employment elsewhere. Since it costs thousands of dollars to onboard a new employee, any large-scale turnover in workforce could have disastrous effects on your business’ profitability.
Whatever your management team chooses to do, you will need the right software in place to properly manage your staff’s social media use. Monitoring software is key, while content filtering software can allow you to choose which employees have access to these social sites, and which ones don’t.
For more information about content filtering for your business, or if you have more questions about how to get the most out of your employees through the use of technology, call us today at Excedeo today at 619.398.4100.