Why It's Silly for Companies to Ban Social Media Sites

First of all, I get it. Many companies think social media sites distract employees from what they are paying them to do. Some also worry about potential legal, security and privacy issues. Either way, it is a perceived lack of control that leads them to banning them all together.

But with smartphone technology and people’s sheer desire to communicate, banning access only forces the issue underground and does nothing to stop it. 

To illustrate this point let’s look at some statistics*:

  • Social networks and blogs reach 80% of Internet users in the U.S. and represent the majority of Americans’ time online. 
  • 56% of Americans have a profile on at least one social networking site. And it’s not just millenials; 55% of those aged 45-54 have at least one social network profile.
  • There are over one billion active users per month on Facebook. 1 of every 5 web page views is on Facebook.
  • 604 million users per month access Facebook via a mobile device
  • Currently there are more smartphones sold per day than people born worldwide each day
  • 56% of college students refuse to work at a company that bans social media

What this data tells us in no uncertain terms is that social media is here to stay and is growing exponentially. Its importance in our business and our lives will only increase in the future. It also tells us that any company looking to ban employees completely from social media sites must be willing to spend a significant amount of their time and resources to enforce these policies. 

So why fight the inevitable? By embracing social media, you can start harnessing their tremendous power and benefiting from the value they create.

Here are just a few of the benefits of allowing social media access to your employees:

 

1. It builds morale

People don’t like being told what to do. By giving your employees access to social media sites, you are showing them that you trust them with their daily activities and have faith in their judgment to balance work with personal activities. If you are looking to attract new, top talent to your organization, a ban on social networks will be a major strike against you.

 

2. It encourages collaboration

Every day people communicate with one another to get work done. It’s silly for companies to ban employees from the very networks they use to find information and solve problems. Social networks are not an invented form of communication; they are simply replicating our offline communications.

 

3. Free marketing

Boost your brand awareness by harnessing the power of your employees’ social networks. They can post about job openings, special events or big news happening in your company.

 

Ready to get going with social media? Maybe you already have embraced it personally and are looking for ways to convince your employer and colleagues that it’s time to put it use for business or at least open it up for employees. 

If your employer is concerned about potential security and legal issues, encourage them to educate your workforce about proper social media use by holding a meeting or webinar. Many companies have social media policies that outline what is appropriate social media use. One of the best examples I have seen is by Dell. They make it publicly available on their website and I highly recommend it to any company that is considering implementing one.

Social media is here to stay and its importance in business is increasing. Banning it will only be a detriment to your company. To be competitive in today’s business world, you need to make sure your employees have every tool in the arsenal and social networks are among those. Don’t get left behind, embrace social networks and start discovering the limitless possibilities that await!

* Statistics pulled from Pew Internet’s The Demographics of Social Media Users — 2012 report and Nielson’s State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012.

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