What use do employees make of social networks? Professional? Personal? Marketing? HR? Knowledge management communities? Like we said in the previous article, for many companies the employee-social network relationship is still rather complicated. Either they haven’t figured out how to engage the workforce positively or they don’t see all the different possibilities and opportunities that social media offers.
To encourage employees to use social networks among, what’s important to keep in mind is that this is a communication activity. As such, we must know what kind of communication we want to stimulate in social networks in order to decide what strategy to develop. To this end, in our last article we defined the communication methods in social media that may arise in a company (corporate communication, marketing, business-to-business, etc.)
In this second article, we go a step further and concentrate on what activities can be developed in social media for each employee profile. In most cases these profiles match specific professions (e.g. marketing or HR employees), but the general use that any employee makes of social media networks during working hours will also be considered.
Furthermore I have divided the classification into two sections, one for employees during working hours and another, outside hours, as this too must be taken into account.
I hope these two articles serve to help organizations to decide on what strategies to roll out to which employees, and when and how to do it.
Employee profiles using social networks in the company
During working hours:
1. Marketing and communications professionals: These use social networks for tasks in corporate communication, internal communication, media relations, business-to-business, direct marketing and advertising, sponsorships and public relations, among others—that is to say, in almost all forms of communications they develop. Among these employees you find social networking professionals themselves (social media strategists, community managers…), who together with HR professionals are in charge of guiding the company in both developing social networking strategies as well as “evangelizing” social media usage throughout the company through employee training courses, style guides, etc.
2. HR professionals: These benefit from social networking in tasks involving internal, business-to-business or crisis communications and events among others. There is a wide range of possibilities, of which three areas are creating buzz lately: internal employee communities, where social networks improve a great many processes, among others are innovation, social recruiting (selection processes through social networks) – an area that social media has revolutionized totally – and lastly employer branding, which stands to benefit enormously from integrating these tools.
3. Experts and brand evangelizers: These act as the personal voice of the company in social networks. These are employees who participate in the networks collaboration with the Marketing and Communications department using their own communication channels. Among other activities, they write in the corporate blog, participate in webinars, debates in social media, etc. They usually develop a personal branding strategy.
4. Employees with a sales profile: Of the communication methods used in social networks, they use above all business-to-business and direct marketing & advertising. These professionals mostly use professional social networks like LinkedIn or Viadeo. An example is how they use premium accounts to let them send email messages through the social network to profiles they do not have in their contacts network.
5. Ordinary employees or ones with no specific function in social networks: When employees spontaneously participate in social networks, the communication methods they mostly use are internal, business-to-business, and also corporate communication. We can separate these efforts into external and internal networks:
- External social networks: Employees may also quite spontaneously take part in networks as company employees without it being part of their tasks, for example, in debates on the sector or about the company. They can even start them and comment on them in blogs. For this reason it is crucial that the HR and Marketing departments create “social media style guides” for employees, as we said earlier, to make sure they uphold good “etiquette” as well as safeguard company privacy.
- Internal social networks: Internal employee communities are on the rise, improving many of the company’s processes. Work becomes more collaborative, favoring the creation of groups and knowledge sharing, etc. These communities significantly improve innovation processes which are empowered and faster than ever; moreover these communities are also used a lot for social performance appraisal processes. But there are many other processes which are made easier, like employee training and development, or internal recommendations for employee selection. It is worth mentioning that “gamification” is turning out to be very effective for speeding up processes within these communities.
Outside working hours:
1. As professionals within a sector ̶̶̶— Personal Branding: This addresses the professional use of social networks for developing their image as workers within a sector, which evolves over time, independently of the company they work in at different periods. A typical case is how LinkedIn is used to create a professional profile and positioned as an expert in a sector.
2. Personal use of networks (neither as employees nor as professionals of a sector): In this case, there is no applicable business communication method. We are talking of the personal use of social networks by employees (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). Nevertheless, this must be taken into account, as there may be cases when employees talk informally of the company in their private social networks. That’s why the social media style guides are so important.