A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites
By Aliah D. Wright
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A woman attending a convention heard two men making what she considered sexist remarks. A few years ago, in the same situation, she might have chastised them in person or pulled aside a convention staffer to point out the offenders. But this is 2013. The woman took a photo of the men and tweeted her outrage for the world to see.
One of the men ended up being fired—but so did the woman who sent the tweet. He employer said she “crossed the line” by “publicly shaming” the men.
Welcome to the murky world where employees, technology and workplace rules intersect. In A Necessary Evil, author Aliah D. Wright covers how to manage employee activity on social media sites from LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook and more.
Wright, an online editor/manager at the Society for Human Resource Management, opens with a primer on social media and its impact on privacy and anonymity. She covers best practices for managers, such as getting familiar with social media; recognizing that employees will use these sites (and not discouraging employees from doing so); reminding employees that what goes online can live forever; and encouraging employees to use social media in ways that are appropriate to the workplace, such as creating LinkedIn or SHRM Connect profiles.
Wright urges employers to let employees use social media at work. She notes that the increased employee engagement that comes from allowing social media use “may outweigh the perceived loss of productivity.” She urges employers to fight the desire to control social media use and instead work to integrate it into the organization.
A tool for that integration is a social media strategy. Twenty-eight percent of organizations already have formal strategies for social media, Wright reports. She profiles how IBM was an early leader in social media, recommending in 1997 that its employees go online and later creating its own in-house social networking software. Examples from other companies show employers using social media to tap employees’ knowledge and share opinions.
Tips for embracing social media include building your firm’s own social site, writing a social media policy and promoting the business value of having employees on social media.
Other aspects Wright covers include these:
-- Recruiting. Applicants now expect employers to use social media to recruit them. Any workplace not doing so will appear outdated and undesirable as a place to work. The book examines LinkedIn and Facebook as social recruiting tools and warns about the downside of using social media to screen candidates.
-- Online safety. HR needs to understand the potential risks of social media, such as data breaches and legal and ethical problems. HR and managers should ensure that security and authentication methods are strong.
-- Productivity. Fear of lost productivity is the chief reason many employers clamp down on social media use. But they’re actually losing out on a potential boost to productivity. Wright covers ways to minimize the distraction of social media while also showing trust in employees.
-- Buy-in from the CEO. Make a business case for social media at work. Ideas include showing the “return on engagement” of social media use and learning to tie social media to metrics managers can understand, including productivity.
-- Social media managers. Employers need these evangelists for social media within their organizations. The book outlines skills a social media manager needs and tasks this manager should perform.
-- Social media policy. Wright provides steps for composing a policy to guide social media use. She touches on topics such as asking for personal passwords (don’t), using social media to screen job candidates (legally tricky), and letting employees know whether their work-based accounts belong to them or to the employer.
A social media resource guide updates readers on a host of social media sites, their target audiences and more.
Social Business by Design
By Dion Hinchcliffe and Peter Kim
List price: $29.95
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In 2011, clothing company Levi’s launched a new line of jeans made using less water than other jeans. On World Water Day, Levi’s rolled out the new line by encouraging people to go to different social media platforms to learn more—taking a pledge on Facebook, writing a tweet on Twitter, visiting Yahoo to answer a question. The campaign increased sales for Levi’s and generated donations to a charity that provides clean drinking water.
The Levi’s campaign demonstrated what authors Dion Hinchcliffe and Peter Kim call social business—“the intentional use of social media to drive meaningful, strategic business outcomes.” And it’s just one of many examples, from a wide range of industries, illustrating this how-to guide on how businesses can integrate social media into all aspects of what they do.
The use of social media, once seen as mostly a way to market or provide customer care, now pervades all aspects of business, Hinchcliffe and Kim argue. Just tacking social media onto a business venture—a Twitter feed here, a Facebook page there—is no longer enough. Now, businesses need to plan and design social media as an integral part of what they do. Some examples:
- Software giant SAP has an online community of 2.5 million users that solves customer problems and gets information about products out to users quickly.
- Procter & Gamble leveraged Twitter and YouTube to jump-start its fading Old Spice brand with nearly instant commercials based on customers’ tweets. On its first day, the Old Spice social media campaign had six million viewers.
- American Express created OPEN Forum, a social networking site where owners of small and medium-sized businesses could share ideas. The forum let American Express members access exclusive content but also allowed public access to an “idea hub” of ideas from experts.
Social Business by Design covers these and other areas:
Marketing. Marketers were early users of social media to reach customers. Now marketers must research how to reach the right segments of the social media market and decide which types of social media to use.
Product development. Customers and the marketplace become the largest source of innovation in a social business environment. The book compares traditional and social product development.
Crowdsourcing. Outsource work to the social media world. Customers out there may be willing to create content for you. But you’ll need a process to identify which business areas will and won’t be open to crowdsourcing, a pilot project to try out the idea, and ways to identify possible contributors.
Customer communities. Customer relationship management (CRM) lends itself well to social media. The book lists what you need to create an effective social media CRM.
Business partnerships. Examples look at how companies have used social media to work and communicate with business partners, franchises, suppliers and more.
Employee engagement. Social business lets employees participate and contribute fully and visibly. Social media platforms, unlike traditional business communication methods, allow for sharing with the entire community rather than a few “narrowly defined interlocutors.”
Other topics include identifying your social business priorities, planning a social media strategy and the return on investment for social business.
A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams
By Yael Zofi
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Because working virtually reduces travel expenses and the need for office space, having virtual teams can lower an organization’s costs. And, it is easier than ever to set up these teams, thanks to technology. Most important, virtual teams let you bring together the most appropriate expertise for a project, no matter where that expertise is located.
The advantages are great, but so are the challenges for managers of virtual teams, author Yael Zofi notes. How do you build rapport among team members? How do you assess your employees and know if they’re really doing what they say they are? How do you spot poor performance in time to redirect an employee? And if you can’t see your team members daily, how do you model the way you’d like them to work?
In A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams, Zofi walks managers through the steps for creating and running new teams. She also offers advice for managers who are already working with existing virtual teams. Managers can use the book as a text on the whole team-building process, or they can dip into it for what they need at a given moment, such as help with getting deliverables out the door or advice on cross-cultural communications.
Managers learn the stages of virtual team development—setting up, following through and refreshing. Setup involves setting goals, creating team rules, and assessing team members’ abilities as well as their ease with virtual communications and technologies. Follow-through means building trust, establishing accountability, managing conflicts among team members and getting the work done. Refreshing involves checking in with team members, identifying potential improvements and debriefing if the virtual team disbands.
Zofi covers these and other topics in detail, and uses case studies to show what real managers did in tough situations. Among the specific advice she offers are tips on how to:
- Select team members and conduct orientation for a newly formed team, or introduce a new member to an existing team.
- Use shared calendars and other tools to keep everyone informed.
- Deal with “lost riders,” employees who push back deadlines and lag in replying to calls or e-mails.
- Use technology more effectively. Get tips on writing efficient e-mails, leaving more useful voice mails, running better web conferences and more.
- Create camaraderie among team members by creating a team website with personal biographies and interests, or setting aside some meeting time for catching up personally.
- Build accountability within virtual teams so that everyone is dependable and keeps commitments. The book includes an “accountability action plan” the team can use to spell out who does what and the schedule.
- Handle conflicts and roadblocks. Zofi guides managers on how to mediate a conflict when the parties can’t be in the same room.
- Get deliverables out the door. The book offers checklists for managing deliverables and advice on using tracking technologies for managing projects.
- Work with cross-cultural teams where communications may need to be tailored carefully to account for different languages and cultural norms.
By Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
Harvard Business Review Press, 2011
List price: $14.95
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If your organization is dashing headlong toward new social media—tossing up Facebook pages, creating corporate wikis and throwing customer surveys online—hold on a moment. Did the technology seduce you first, or did you stop and think about the relationships you want to forge with the technology?
Too often, organizations start with technology, when their starting point for using social technologies should be learning about the people they want to reach, authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff write in Groundswell. The title refers to what they call the “social trend in which people use technology to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies.”
And they note: “If you’re a company, this is a challenge.”
To meet that challenge and “make the groundswell your ally,” Li and Bernoff lay out what this trend means, what to do about it and how to use it successfully for your organization.
The social media revolution can threaten companies and brands as customers post reviews and comments all over the Internet, and the book provides examples of how firms ended up with black eyes after negative postings or images raced across the ether. But your focus, the authors emphasize, should be on making the groundswell of social media your ally, not your enemy.
The book gives a rundown of social technology basics, explaining how each works, who tends to participate, how each threatens institutions’ power and how you can leverage the technology for your organization’s benefit. Technologies discussed include blogs; podcasts; social networks such as Facebook and Twitter; virtual worlds; collaborative efforts such as wikis and open source sites; and online forums, ratings and reviews.
Readers then learn how to profile people based on which groundswell activities they use and how they use them. These profiles can help companies and organizations design sites and other tools tailored to what specific groups want.
A four-step approach to planning your groundswell strategy starts with figuring out what your customers are ready for. Then the authors take readers through how to set goals for their online presence: Do you want to listen to customers to get ideas about your marketing? Talk to customers to spread messages about your organization? Locate your most devoted customers and energize them to help you promote your brand?
The next step is creating strategies for how you want to change relationships with customers, and the last step is looking at technology and applications most appropriate for the people, objectives and strategy you’ve identified.
The book covers ideas in more detail, such as:
“Listening to the groundswell.” This goes beyond typical market research. Now, organizations can see people’s opinions hourly on blogs, forums and more. Learn to navigate what people are saying about you as well as how to set up a “private community” online, much like a focus group, and how to monitor your brands online.
“Talking with the groundswell.” Learn to use techniques including viral videos, blogs, social networking, online communities and sites with user-generated content. The authors look at when brands should use social networking, how to measure results of your participation in social networks and how to blog successfully to get your message across.
“Energizing the groundswell.” This means getting devoted customers to talk up your company or products online. There are technology firms selling “word of mouth programs” to help you find and use these product “evangelists.” And you can use ratings and reviews sites to solicit and spread comments.
“Embracing the groundswell.” Are you ready to develop and change products based on what customers say? Li and Bernoff show how to involve customers in product innovation.
A chapter on Twitter focuses on ways these pithy updates have gained huge influence and provides tactics for using Twitter to reach customers.
Smart Policies for Workplace Technologies
By Lisa Guerin, J.D.
List price: $34.99
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How do you tell employees to keep certain content out of their workplace e-mails? How do you control employees’ Internet use—and should you control it? Do you need a policy about personal cell phone use at work?
This handbook, an updated edition, lets readers go straight to the tips they need, whether they’re looking to set up comprehensive technology use policies or just trying to figure out who should be allowed to post on the company’s official blog today.
Author Lisa Guerin structures Smart Policies for Workplace Technologies by technology type, with chapters on e-mail, Internet use, instant messaging, blogging, social media (including Facebook and Twitter), cell phones, portable devices and laptops, and cameras.
Guerin notes that companies need technology policies to protect themselves legally, to protect their assets and trade secrets, to have grounds for discipline when needed, and to protect customer and employee privacy.
She advises on how to start creating policies by figuring out what the organization currently does or doesn’t do about technology use. For each type of technology, the book offers ideas on appropriate use, samples of policy language and guidelines for communicating policies to employees. Each chapter ends with a sample policy covering that technology.
For example, the chapter on e-mail provides specific language to use in policies, such as detailed statements on not soliciting via e-mail. The chapter also provides advice on keeping the tone and content of e-mails professional, not opening attachments from unknown sources, and keeping and deleting e-mail messages.
With social media, real-life examples show how brief Twitter postings can spark defamation suits, and how an employee’s entirely personal blog can end up with his employer being sued. Advice on social media policies includes who should post, guidelines for posting legal and appropriate information, authorship questions, and tips on how to handle comments posted by readers.
The book includes a CD-ROM containing sample policies.
Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms
By Michelle Golden
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011
List price: $45
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Employers are tempted by the potential benefits of social media—all those clicks bringing people to your business!—but how can businesses, especially professional services firms, use social media most effectively?
Author Michelle Golden, who has specialized in building (or training accountants to build) CPA blogs, opens Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms with the basics, including definitions of social media and fundamental rules and policies for using them. She then compares different types of social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs) and how well each one meets specific business needs.
Golden provides real-life examples of how business users leveraged social media for marketing, self-publishing, and engagement and networking. Because the book’s focus is on social media use by professional services firms, the examples come from lawyers and accountants—but the lessons can apply widely.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn get detailed treatment. Golden covers how to set up each type of account and teaches the specialized lingo each uses. She also advises readers on how to get business benefits out of each. For example, readers learn how to create a company Facebook page, how to promote the company’s Facebook presence, how to interact with others on the networking site LinkedIn, and more.
A section on blogs describes what they are, the tools needed to create them and blogging basics such as a detailed breakdown of the parts of a blog post. There’s advice on starting and maintaining a company blog; considerations include deciding who should post, preparing the authors, determining content, figuring out who the desired readers are and promoting the newly launched blog.
Golden devotes a chapter to writing for the Internet, guiding readers on how to craft both content and style for the online audience. She offers ideas for how to write stronger blog posts, find ideas, create online “e-books” for others to download, create podcasts and video content, and reuse content across different social media.
Social media etiquette tips, a best practices list and a glossary round out the book.
Managing the Mobile Workforce
By David Clemons and Michael Kroth
List price: $28
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They’re always available. They might work from home, from the road or from your organization’s different offices. They rely on the right hardware and software and have management’s support for their far-flung working ways.
They are the mobile workforce, and their mobility is tied not only to where they are (or aren’t) but also to their use of technology and the way they, and their managers, think.
But how do managers hire, lead and support this workforce? How do executives factor this workforce into decisions about the organization’s strategy and competitiveness?
Managing the Mobile Workforce doesn’t try to identify the latest technologies. Instead, it focuses on how to create “a trusted, supportive work environment for employees” and build commitment among teammates who may see each other rarely, if at all.
Throughout the book, readers get access to additional, free content they can access on mobile devices.
Based on interviews with 39 managers and executives, the book examines issues such as:
- Developing a mobile workforce strategy. Evaluate whether your organization is a good candidate for a mobile work environment and what the benefits and costs of a mobile workforce truly are. Learn about different types of mobile technology platforms and how they can be integrated with your current business systems.
- Learning what a mobile workforce is—and what it isn’t. Authors David Clemons and Michael Kroth debunk ideas about the mobile workforce. Working away from the office will help, not harm, employees’ careers, they argue, and allowing employees mobility will help employers. They show how mobile technology affects not just where work is done but how it gets done. They also argue that workers and the products of their work don’t have to be in the same physical space.
- Creating presence. For the mobile workforce, being present isn’t about physical proximity. Presence means the feeling that someone or something is close by, and technology can create real social presence among employees and between them and managers. That presence is the bedrock of trust and motivation, the authors say.
- Building trust. Readers learn specific techniques for building trust among team members via technology. Sticking to regularly scheduled business reviews and performance evaluations becomes more important when team members are apart, and because it’s harder to observe behavior for mobile employees, giving and getting feedback becomes even more vital. Tips cover creating personal connections among mobile workers and managers, dealing with conflict, and providing regular forums for discussions.
- Leading in a virtual environment. Managers and other leaders can learn to analyze their organizations’ mobile readiness and fit the idea of telework into the bigger picture of strategic planning. The book encourages leaders to create a “platform for mobile work” that integrates hardware and software choices with policies and procedures as well as strategic plans and competencies.
- Managing the mobile workforce’s performance. Readers get a performance management process tailored for mobile workers and including aspects of mobile performance such as whether the available technology is fully supporting the job.
- Principles for motivating this workforce. Clemons and Kroth offer an eight-point list, from setting challenging goals to demonstrating real care for employees.
The Social Media Management Handbook
By Nick Smith and Robert Wollan with Catherine Zhou
John Wiley & Sons, 2011
List price: $27.95
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Social media are unavoidable, and businesses that once said, “We’re no Amazon, we don’t need social media,” now are wondering how to harness social media for business success.
How can companies use social media for marketing? For customer support and customer feedback? To drive product development? Three managing directors from Accenture help companies devise strategies for using social media and integrating them in all parts of the organization, including customer service, sales and HR.
The Social Media Management Handbook first examines why some bosses balk at social media: They worry, rightly, about the media’s ubiquity, its lack of regulation, its shift of power to consumers, and the way its speed accelerates decision-making.
Organizations should start with a framework for managing social media—processes for setting them up, policies setting boundaries for employees who use them, and metrics for measuring how well social media achieve business goals and how much they cost, for example.
The book then delves into:
- How to set business goals for use of social media (with examples) and determine metrics to measure success of social media use
- How to look at the return on investment (ROI) of social media, especially a new ROI measure called “customer health”—the value of a customer to the organization.
- How to “sell social media within the organization,” appealing to top brass and getting them behind social media initiatives.
- How to use social media to get better customer feedback that’s mostly free and comes in a digital form that’s easily mined for data.
- How to handle the difficulties of high-volume, digitized customer feedback, such as the anonymity of comments and the difficulty of deciding which media to use for soliciting feedback.
- How to prepare employees to use social media as a workplace tool and how to adjust current roles to reflect new responsibilities related to social media (such as “social media marketing campaign manager” or “social customer service strategist”).
HR roles will change, too, and new HR positions might include social media recruiter or employee community manager.