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Managing and Leveraging Workplace Use of Social Media

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Scope This article provides an overview of the use of social media by employers and their employees. Topics include common business applications of social networking sites, employee use of social media at work and potential risks of social media in the workplace. The article covers the role of human resources, policy development, and emerging legal and regulatory issues. The article does not cover marketing-related applications of social media. 


The exploding growth of social media has significantly changed the way people communicate at home and at work. Social media applications include sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, Second Life, Yahoo groups, Wordpress and ZoomInfo. Not only have social media changed the way we communicate, but these applications present great opportunities for businesses in the areas of public relations, internal and external communications, recruiting, organizational learning and collaboration, and more. See, Put Social Media to Work for You.

This article discusses frequently used business applications for social media, including recruiting, building employee engagement and communication, strategic real-time listening tools for business intelligence, and expanding learning opportunities among employees. Another vital application of social media by employers is as a knowledge-sharing platform, with employees at all levels using blogs, microblogs (similar to Twitter), expert directories and communities of practice. These tools and groups turn social media into collaborative tools to improve work product and workflow.

Also presented are the potential issues created when employees use their personal social media accounts while at the office, possibly affecting productivity, data security and network security. “Friending” and other contact among employees on social media can open the employer to possible legal issues, also reviewed in the article. Even the social media use policies that employers write to help control use can present more legal questions. HR in many organizations is taking the lead in developing, communicating and enforcing social media policies and on keeping tabs on the changing legal landscape of social media.


Social media are information-based tools and technologies used to share information and facilitate communications with internal and external audiences. Well-known examples of social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but social media can take many different forms.

Those forms can include Internet forums, online profiles, podcasts, pictures and video, e-mail, instant messaging, music sharing programs, and Internet-based voice services (“voice over IP”), to name just a few. Social media also include applications sometimes known as “Web 2.0,” a term encompassing technologies such as blogs, texting, wikis, and other applications like Google Reader, Google Docs and Ryze, a site linking business professionals.

Organizations can make use of social media in a variety of ways. Departments can hold brainstorming sessions or maintain ongoing conversations with questions and answers on a blog; teams can use wikis to manage projects, share best practices and research case studies; the CEO can keep a blog or record a podcast; and organizations can immediately deliver news to employees.

Collaborative technologies seem to be valuable in the workplace because of their effectiveness in improving understanding and teamwork, building relationships and developing lateral communication. The novel aspect of social media is their conversational tone: Knowledge sharing takes place through processes including discussion with questions and answers (online forums), collaborative editing (wikis), or storytelling with reactions (blogs).

Because social media are relatively new territory for both employers and employees, many questions still exist about how these tools should and should not operate in the workplace. For employers, the key questions are how to get business benefits out of these platforms and how to ensure that employee use of social media while at work is neither distracting nor potentially harmful to the organization. See, SHRM Social Media in the Workplace Survey Findings and An Examination of How Social Media is Embedded in Business Strategy and Operations.

 Millennials, those under 30, are projected to make up approximately 40 percent of the estimated 162 million-member U.S. workforce by 2014. Given that this group of employees has grown up actively communicating via myriad social media sites and devices, the use of social media is a workplace trend with staying power for the foreseeable future. See, Need Help With Social Media? Ask Younger Workers.

As reported in a 2011 SHRM survey about the use of social media in the workplace, the most popular websites for social networking were Facebook (45 percent), LinkedIn (38 percent) and Twitter (28 percent).  The use of social media by employers as a business tool is a relatively new phenomenon, with 47 percent of the responding employers reporting that they had only began using social media in 2009. See, SHRM Social Media in the Workplace Survey Findings.

Employers are aware that social media raise questions about appropriate use. At the time of a January 2012 study, SHRM found that 40 percent of responding organizations had formal social media policies in place. Those organizations also proved willing to enforce their policies: The study found that in the 12 months before the survey, 33 percent of organizations with such policies had taken disciplinary action against an employee for violating their policies. See, SHRM Research Spotlight: Social Media in Business Strategy and Operations (PDF).

Business Case

The 2012 SHRM survey also reported that 55 percent of organizations planned to increase their overall social media use within a year. Organizations are embracing social media for business use because the return on investment is getting clearer. For example, a 2010 study by Towers Watson suggests that companies with the most effective communication strategies—which often include social media tools—posted higher returns for shareholders than companies with the least effective strategies. See, Capitalizing on Effective Communication (PDF).

The McKinsey Quarterly from global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has been surveying executives about Web 2.0 tools for several years. Those surveys report measurable business benefits from these tools. The most common benefits include more innovative products and services, more effective marketing, better access to knowledge, lower costs of doing business, and increased revenues. In addition, several organizations report improved employee engagement scores and better customer satisfaction survey results since they launched their social business networks. See, The Rise of the Networked Enterprise: Web 2.0 Finds Its Payday.

Pros and Cons of Using Social Media

As with most technologies, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and no single right way for an organization to use social media applications. The benefits and drawbacks of social networking platforms vary based on platform type, features, industry, and the organization itself.  

Possible advantages

Why should an organization have its own official presence on social media? Reasons include the following:

  • Facilitates open communication, leading to enhanced information discovery and delivery.
  • Allows employees to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions and share links.
  • Provides an opportunity to widen business contacts.
  • Targets a wide audience, making it a useful and effective recruitment tool.
  • Improves business reputation and client base with minimal use of advertising.
  • Promotes diversity and inclusion. See, When Social Media Meets Diversity.
  • Expands market research, implements marketing campaigns, delivers communications and directs interested people to specific websites.

Possible disadvantages

Despite the business pluses of these sites and tools, they also create issues of security and legal liability for employers, and still relatively little case law exists for organizations to turn to when weighing the risks. Use of social media at work—by employees for personal use or by the employer as an official tool—can open up organizations to the following:

  • The possibility for hackers to commit fraud and launch spam and virus attacks.
  • The risk of people falling prey to online scams that seem genuine, resulting in data or identity theft or a compromise of the company’s computer security.
  • A potential outlet for negative comments from employees about the organization.
  • Legal consequences if employees use these sites to view or distribute objectionable, illicit or offensive material.

See, What are the advantages and disadvantages of social networking sites? What should we include in a policy?

Common Business Applications

Social media can be powerful business tools, helping employers with everything from recruitment to employee engagement to communications. See, Put Social Media to Work for You and Career Digital: SHRM + Social Media.

Below are some of the ways that employers are leveraging social media for maximum organizational benefit.


In the not-so-distant past, recruiters and staffing managers pored over resumes, posted vacancies on job boards and hosted expensive job fairs to find candidates. Now, for example, employers can use social networking sites to post challenging technical questions and then contact respondents who provide the best answers.

Recruiters can use relationship management tools to build and track relationships with passive job candidates who are not currently job-hunting. New recruiting applications designed for the iPhone, iPad and other devices can let recruiters create better online searches or exchange information easily. Social media allow creation of specialty recruiting sites for specific industries. Employers are also beginning to use Twitter to announce employment opportunities to job seekers who subscribe to the company’s Twitter feeds.


The key to recruiting with social media is to use more than one site, application or platform. Effective talent sourcing is about “networking the networks” to recruit across many social media. To remain competitive, organizations that have not yet migrated their recruiting programs to social media should explore social media as at least one component of a broader strategy. See, A Brave New World for Employers and Recruiters.

Note that the use of social media in recruitment carries legal risks unique to the social media environment. For more about these risks, see the “Legal Issues” section below.

Employee engagement

Employees tend to feel more engaged in the workplace if they feel informed and if they believe their opinions are heard. Social media can give employers a way to spread the word as well as a way to channel employee comments.

Some organizations use a corporate Facebook page to communicate new programs or policies to their employees. A key benefit is that employees can react to announcements immediately with comments or questions. Other employers use a corporate blog or video sharing to keep employees around the world engaged in regular meetings. Social media can be an excellent tool for quickly disseminating information on the state of the organization and have everyone feel involved, making them feel more connected and more a part of the organization and its mission.


External communications

Nearly a third of the respondents to the 2011 SHRM survey reported that online platforms such as Web logs (better known as blogs) and webinars or webcasts were the most widely used external communications tools. That survey also revealed that some CEOs are using social media as a tool to reach external audiences. Roughly 20 percent of the respondents reported that their CEOs used LinkedIn to build external relationships, and 17 percent indicated that their CEOs used Facebook and that 9 percent used Twitter.

Despite the growth in social media as a corporate communication tool, SHRM found that nearly three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) did not offer social media training to employees who used the online platforms to reach external audiences and potential customers. See, SHRM Social Media in the Workplace Survey and Companies Lagging Individuals in Social Networking.

Learning applications

A joint 2010 survey by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) found that managers in 80 percent of 3,800 global businesses planned to increase their use of social media for employee learning during the next three years. See, Transforming Learning: Web 2.0 Technologies.

Learning is a relatively new purpose for social media, but these media are likely to bring radical change to the way learning happens in organizations. Social media allow employers to embrace the younger generation’s need to collaborate and learn, which in turn will transform the workplace into an environment where people learn naturally with each other all the time, not just during a single training event. But organizations will need to change how they think about training and learning programs. Training models that focus on controlling the content and pushing information down to learners will not work in the collaborative environment of social media. See, Social Media Tools Redefining Learning in Organizations.

 Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration

Social media provide a great opportunity to leverage the deep and diverse expertise many organizations already possess. Rather than turn to outside consultants or third-party providers, companies can harness internal expertise with tools, including microblogging, wikis, YouTube-like repositories of learning videos, expert directories or communities of practice. See, Group Learning. 

Internal discussion boards or social media spaces allow employees to collaborate and exchange ideas and experiences. These tools are also being used for self-service benefits enrollment, matching current employees to open positions and more. See, In-House Connections and Social Networking at the Office.

Social media can play a crucial role in facilitating collaboration across time zones, departments and locations. See, Developing a Social Business Network and The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations.

Some of the most innovative ways to foster collaboration across an enterprise include those listed below.


In blogs, writers regularly post entries for public view, often on specific topics—or on behalf of a specific organization. Blogs for business can be aimed at getting the attention of potential employees, promoting a brand or a company, or disseminating information out to customers, among other uses.

Blogging can be external—reaching the public—or internal—to improve business processes. For example, Marsh Inc., a global risk management and insurance broker, uses blogs internally for training. When the company wanted to teach finance to one employee group, it did not enlist instructional designers or vendors to create or tailor traditional training courses. Marsh turned instead to its finance experts, who created a 27-part blog series that included both written content and videos created with flip cameras and screen-capture technology.

To teach employees good blogging technique, Marsh’s experts created a program that provides instruction in areas such as clear writing, communicating with influence, Marsh’s code of conduct and more. See, Group Learning.

Microblogging and microsharing

These technologies allow users to exchange information in small snippets and in real time. Twitter is an example of a microblog, but today some organizations use other microblogging tools they can secure behind their computer firewalls and restrict to those inside the company. Employees can ask or answer questions, exchange information with peers, find out who has needed expertise, and quickly give their input on projects. They can post their comments about documents, proposals or presentations. Yammer and Chatter are other examples of microblogging platforms designed for internal communication. See, Firm Is All A-Twitter About Micro-Blogging for Business.

Employers are also using microsharing programs to make these immediate communications part of everyday workflow, rather than using them as stand-alone tools. For example, Marsh uses the tool Socialtext in its budgeting process. The tool gives users a box at the bottom of a budgeting screen where they can make comments as they go through a document, and others can see those comments instantly. Managers across divisions can communicate in real time to ask questions and address their budgeting challenges.

Expert directories

Another social media tool—an expert directory—simplifies and improves the process of connecting subject matter experts to others within an organization. These directories can include information on experts’ specific competencies, current and past projects, and more. Creating a culture in which experts are willing to share their knowledge internally can be extraordinarily powerful.

An example of an expert directory is the “people profile” section of the Knowledge Exchange at Accenture, a global consulting and technology services firm. The profiles include biographies, photos and resumes, as well as descriptions of employees’ interests and skill sets. The Exchange contains blogs, wikis, market insights and more. Accenture research shows a 42 percent increase in the number of employees engaged in collaborative activities through the Exchange from 2010 to 2011. Similar benefits can be enjoyed by others through the use of existing public-domain networking sites or basic freeware such as Ning.

Communities of practice

To foster informal, employee-driven learning, employers have created communities of practice, groups where workers with similar expertise or interests can swap ideas and ask questions on internal forums.

For instance, Accenture integrates its knowledge-sharing systems with thousands of communities of practice. Community members ask questions on discussion boards, contribute or download content on specific topics, and have content digests e-mailed to them.

Employers need to realize that such communities change membership over time and that employee participation waxes and wanes. Also, not all of the comments shared by employees on discussion boards, blogs or wikis will be factually accurate. Those overseeing social media networks have to walk a fine line between censoring content and ensuring that information is accurate.

Video instruction

The use of video has gained traction as an employee learning tool, fueled by the growth of smart phones with high-definition video and broadband networks. As a result, more organizations are creating YouTube-like repositories on enterprise networks where employees post videos created to share knowledge.  

Role of Human Resources

HR may be tempted to leave social media matters to the organization’s information technology managers. But experts warn that the issues involved in social media use—privacy, confidentiality, appropriate communication styles, productivity and time management—are squarely in HR’s wheelhouse. Policies on appropriate use of these evolving media are HR’s responsibility. See, Twittering and Facebooking While They Work.

Working with IT, risk management specialists and marketing personnel, HR must structure policies to minimize risk to both the employer’s security and its reputation. At the same time, HR must help the employer leverage the use of social media for the organization’s benefit. HR is also typically responsible for enforcing social media policies. (HR professionals can keep up with changes to social media practices and policies by signing up for SHRM’s free Social Media E-Newsletter.) See, SHRM Survey: HR Has Key Role in Corporate Social Media Efforts and SHRM Survey Findings: An Examination of How Social Media is Embedded in Business Strategy and Operations.

HR also generally takes primary responsibility for developing and promoting guidelines and training to ensure that employees understand the expectations about their use of social media, both at work and at home. Lessons for employees on social media etiquette, together with clear expectations from the employer, ensure that employees know how, when and where they can use social media. HR also takes the lead in developing appropriate internal documents to communicate policy requirements, changes and clarifications to a company’s employees. See, Social Media Etiquette: Communicate Behavioral Expectations.

Potential Risks of Using Social Media

The growing use of social media is not without risks. Employee use of these sites, whether for personal use or as an official part of the employer’s social media strategy, can open the door to certain liabilities.

Exposing networks to attack

Employees may not be aware of how their actions online could compromise organizational security. Visiting social networking sites at work can expose company networks to “malware,” including adware and spyware. Malware, or malicious software, is designed to take control of and damage a computer. It can help hackers steal identities and data.

Organizations must educate employees about how a downloaded application or even a simple click on a received link can infect their computers and the network at large. Employers should also warn workers not to click on suspicious links and to pay careful attention when providing personal information online.

Distributing confidential information

A critical concern about social networking platforms is that they encourage people to share personal information. Even the most cautious and well-meaning people can give away information they should not; the same applies to what is posted on company-approved social networking platforms. See, Twittering and Facebooking While They Work.

Organizations that maintain an official Twitter feed or a corporate Facebook page want public recognition—in fact, the point is to attract followers. These employers keep, and often publicize, statistics about their numbers of followers and views. This dynamic is where the danger lies. In an attempt to be personal and provocative, employers that allow any employee to post on the company account also leave themselves open to problems—such as potential disclosure of confidential organization information, violation of employment policies or other rules, or public relations headaches. See, Why You Need a Policy if Your Employees are Twittering.

Creating tattletales

Another issue for employers is the problem of employees tattling to managers about other employees’ personal posts on social media sites, especially where those items could get the poster in trouble at work. HR needs to anticipate this eventuality and have a procedure in place: Managers take no initial action, and HR checks the questionable posts first because the posts may be protected speech. See, HR Struggling with Facebook Snitches.

Social Media Guidelines

According to the 2011 SHRM social media survey, about 40 percent of organizations have a formal social media policy. The most frequently cited elements included in these policies were the following:

  • A code of conduct for employee use of social networking environments for professional purposes (68 percent of organizations included this item in their policies).
  • A code of conduct for employee use of social networking environments for personal purposes while at work (66 percent).
  • Notification to employees that the organization has the right to monitor their social media use in the workplace (56 percent).
  • Guidelines for social media communications (55 percent).
  • Guidelines for responding to feedback on social networking environments (35 percent).

Although a growing number of employers use social media, 43 percent of the respondents in the 2011 SHRM survey reported that their organizations block access to social media sites on company-owned computers and handheld electronic devices. The survey found that larger organizations (more than 500 employees) are more likely to block access to social media sites and to track employee use. See, SHRM Social Media in the Workplace Survey Findings.

Employers do have the right to prohibit any personal use of company computers, but such a prohibition is not likely to yield optimal results. If an employer decides to permit employees access to social networking platforms, then the employer needs a comprehensive and well-defined policy to prevent abuse.

What a policy should cover

An effective social networking policy generally does the following:

  • Defines what the organization means when it refers to “social networking.”
  • Establishes a clear and defined purpose for the policy.
  • Communicates benefits of social networking and of having a policy.
  • Provides a clear platform for educating employees.
  • Takes into consideration any legal consequences of not following laws.
  • Refers to proprietary and confidential information at risk.
  • Talks about productivity in terms of social networking.
  • Establishes expected behavioral norms in the use of social networking.
  • Provides guidance regarding social networking that could be associated with the organization, employees or customers. Some employers may prohibit posting of company information on social networking sites without the employer’s explicit consent.
  • Outlines disciplinary measures the employer will take if employees violate social media policy.

See, Social Media Acceptable Use Policy and Social Media Policy.

Social networking do’s and don’ts

Specifically, comprehensive policies and training efforts about social media need to convey to employees that they should:

  • Exercise good judgment and common sense.
  • Pause before posting.
  • Not allow social networking to interrupt productivity.
  • Be mindful of their privacy settings.
  • Refrain from anonymity.
  • Be polite and responsible.
  • Be accountable and correct mistakes.
  • Use disclaimers or speak in the first person to make it clear the opinions expressed are not those of their employer.
  • Bring work-related complaints to HR, not through postings on social media sites or the Internet.
  • Remember the audience and that what is being said might create a perception about the employer.


Legal Issues

Social media are young, and case law about social media and employment is in its early days. Among the legal issues employers should watch are policy content, problems with using social media for recruitment and hiring, pitfalls of social media “friendings,” and questions about ownership of materials posted online.

Policies and protected activity

Any policy should be in the form of a guideline, not an absolute rule. If a guideline is made into a rule, the employer may possibly violate the National Labor Relations Act, which says employees have the right to engage in “protected concerted activity.” See, Employee rights. In a nutshell, when two or more employees discuss the terms and conditions of employment in a way that is designed or intended to effect change, they have the right to do that—and this protection applies to employee interactions through the use of social media too.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is actively shaping the legal framework of social media use by employees. In several cases, the NLRB found social media policies overbroad and unlawful because the policies discouraged protected concerted activity. According to the NLRB, the mere existence of an overly broad social media policy exposes the employer to an unfair labor practice charge even if no disciplinary action is taken against an employee. See, NLRB Actively Engaged in Examining Employee Social Media Use.

NLRB is building case law on social media and the workplace through its rulings on adverse actions involving employee use of social media use. Employers should become familiar with NLRB’s decisions.


Recruitment and hiring issues

Employers must exercise caution when using social networks for recruiting or when viewing candidates’ personal social media profiles while in the recruiting or hiring processes. Social media can play a role in the screening process, but employers should consider when and how to use social media this way and weigh potential legal pitfalls:

  • Access to protected information about candidates. When looking at candidates’ social media profiles, HR professionals may learn information they should not have when screening candidates. A candidate could claim that a potential employer did not offer a job because of information found on a social networking site, which discusses legally protected categories such as the candidate’s race, ethnicity, age, associations, family relationships or political views. To avoid problems, employers should ensure they do not use social media to screen applicants when deciding who gets an interview. They should also require that HR, not the hiring manager, should conduct any social media reviews—and only during the background check of the finalist, when the HR professional already knows the finalist’s equal employment opportunity profile. See, Widening Web of Social Media and Twitter Recruiting Raises Legal Concerns.
  •  Possible violations of fair credit reporting law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act identifies background screening companies as “consumer reporting agencies” and outlines specific requirements for employers and screening agencies. Screeners must meet certain standards for accuracy of the information they use. Fulfilling that obligation can be challenging, given that content on social media sites can change at any time and is controlled by users.
  • Negligent hiring claims. For example, if derogatory information about a workplace violence incident that could have foreshadowed the bad behavior were available on the perpetrator’s public social networking profile, the employer might be held liable for negligence in not using this information when the hiring decision was made.

See, Social Media Screening: Navigating the Minefield and Social Media Recruiting: Understand the Legal Guidelines.

Risky “friendships”

Online “friending” between managers and employees increases the chance—should a working relationship turn sour—of additional claims in any subsequent employment litigation. Managers will all too easily wind up with too much information if they have “friended” their employees, including (as with recruiting and hiring issues above) personal information that might fall within a protected category under federal or state employment laws. A fired or disciplined employee might later argue that the real reason for any adverse employment action was based on personal information that the manager learned by viewing the employee’s social media site. See, Not Recommended: Blurred Lines Between Bosses and Employees on Social Networking Sites.

If managers and employees become each other’s contacts on professional sites such as LinkedIn, the online relationship can come back to bite the employer. For example, if a supervisor or manager writes an online recommendation for an employee and later fires that employee, the employee might be able to cite the online recommendation as evidence that he or she was not performing poorly. Employers need policies about recommendations or other comments managers may or may not make on such sites.

Yet employers might be reluctant simply to prohibit managers from friending employees. Such a prohibition might itself be the target of legal challenges under laws guaranteeing the right of privacy and the right to associate, or under laws restricting employers from regulating lawful off-premises conduct. See, Accessing Employees’ Facebook Pages Raises Privacy Issues.

Password requests

Growing risks and legal implications exist when employers ask applicants and employees for their passwords to social media sites. Maryland recently became the first state to pass legislation to prohibit employers from requiring access to social media passwords. See, Maryland Enacts Social Media’s First Password Law.

A federal bill has also been introduced to prohibit the practice. The Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA) would prohibit employers from requiring current employees or applicants to provide a username, password or other access to online content. The bill would bar employers from disciplining employees who refuse to volunteer such information.


Ownership disputes

Lawsuits over social media are on the rise as employers and former employees wrangle over who owns Twitter handles and followers, as well as LinkedIn connections and MySpace friends.

In one case, a website sued an editor who left but took his Twitter followers with him; the site maintained that those followers belonged to the site, not to the individual editor. The followers were effectively a customer list generated when the editor worked for the site, the site’s lawyers argued. In another case, a former employee sued her employer for access to her LinkedIn account, which the employer cut off when she left the company because the account had been maintained for her by company staff.

Organizations should ensure that social media polices say who owns these accounts and their followers and what happens to those accounts if an employee leaves.



Social media programs are infrequently measured, with only 21 percent of organizations responding to the 2012 SHRM survey reporting that they use analytics or reporting tools to measure the return on investment for their social media efforts. See, SHRM Survey Findings: An Examination of How Social Media is Embedded in Business Strategy and Operations.

When organizations do measure their social media programs, three metrics most commonly in use are the following:

  • Visitors and sources of traffic.
  • Network size (followers, fans, members).
  • Quantity of commentary about brand or product.

Monitoring data is only valuable if the organization is tracking and analyzing metrics relevant to it and then applying the information to improve its social media strategy. Undoubtedly, the range of metrics to consider will continue to evolve as social media use continues to expand. See, Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment.

Limits to Sustainable Social Media Strategies

To sustain and maximize business uses of social media, having the right technologies is only one part of the equation. Even the most user-friendly and feature-rich tools will not overcome a culture where employees are discouraged by managers—overtly or subtly—from using social tools for fear of taking time away from “real” work.

Another impediment to business use of these media is failure to assign skilled talent to manage and cultivate the organization’s own participation on social networks. Employers need to have “social media champions” to collect the most relevant content, draw attention to it, keep conversations going, and reward people who are the most active in sharing their knowledge with others.

A sustainable social media strategy requires both a culture that encourages knowledge sharing and a team with a wide array of competencies dedicated to managing and promoting these potentially powerful social media initiatives. Without this focus, organizations can quickly lose traction as busy employees find little time or reason to use these collaborative tools amid the demands of daily work.

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Acknowledgement—This article was first prepared for SHRM by Teresa A. Daniel, J.D., Ph.D., a consultant with InsideOut HR Solutions PLLC (, an HR consulting firm which specializes in helping organizations create positive workplace cultures and which also provides executive coaching for abrasive managers. She is the author of Stop Bullying at Work: Strategies and Tools for HR & Legal Professionals, the No. 7 top-selling book for the SHRM Store during 2010.  The author supplemented her own experience and research on this topic with existing SHRM Online content. 

Publication Note—This article was first published for SHRM Online in December 2012. SHRM staff will update it periodically as developments in this area warrant. For the most recent developments, see the HR Discipline of Technology and specifically the articles archived under the Communications topic. Notify SHRM of broken links or concerns about the content by e-mailing 

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