IMA Pulse

Social Media in the Workplace

By Kip Krumwiede, CMA, CPA
November 15, 2017
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Seems like everyone is using social media these days, both at work and at home. But is it too much? How can companies help ensure appropriate use of social media in the workplace and take advantage of its power to build their brand? IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) conducted a survey of senior finance professionals from a cross-section of industries in September 2017 to find out how companies are minimizing personal use of social media at work.

 

Of the 103 survey respondents:

  • 52% say their organization has a written policy on appropriate use of social media in the workplace.
  • 26% say their organization doesn’t have a written policy.
  • 7% are working on one, and the rest don’t know.

 

Of those who said their organization has a written policy on appropriate use of social media, 58% said their company has been successful in minimizing inappropriate use of social media during work hours. Only 34% of those without a policy said their company has been successful.

 

Besides having a written policy, the other practice most successful in minimizing inappropriate use of social media during work hours is educating employees about how the policy protects the company and the employees from potentially damaging activity. For instance, an ESPN employee recently tweeted her political opinions, and the ESPN brand took a big hit. Other examples of individuals sending out tweets and other posts with negative consequences for their organization are in the news every day.

 

Using social media for business purposes can also backfire. For example, one airline tried a Twitter campaign asking passengers to share their positive experiences. Unfortunately, the airline’s fleet was grounded the day before due to a labor dispute. And the customers were angry.

 

Regarding appropriate use of social media for business purposes, by far the most common sites used are Facebook (76%), LinkedIn (66%), Twitter (50%), and YouTube (35%). The most commonly cited purposes for using these social media platforms are:

  • Engaging customers (77%)
  • Building brand awareness (71%)
  • Increasing website traffic (42%)

 

On an individual basis, 76% said they use social media less than 30 minutes during the workday (17% said 30-60 minutes). Personal use is generally less than 25% of the workday. For those who use social media at work, the following are the most common purposes:

  • Find information needed for my job (55%)
  • Network with colleagues (53%)
  • Take a break from work (52%)
  • Communicate with friends and family at work (34%)

 

When we asked respondents to what extent they feel that social media is a barrier to getting their work done, 70% said it isn’t a barrier. Another 19% felt it is somewhat of a barrier, and 5% said it is definitely a barrier.

 

DON’T IGNORE THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Although it appears that personal use of social media isn’t a major problem among finance professionals, it’s probably a hindrance for some employees in the organization. To help ensure appropriate use of social media in the workplace, it’s important to develop a written policy and talk with employees about why it’s important.

 

The bigger opportunity is training employees on how to use social media to benefit the company, including engaging customers, building brand awareness, and increasing website traffic. It’s important to choose the right networks, maximize visual branding, and get your logo out there. If you aren’t already doing so, it may be time to hire someone with these skills and join the social media bandwagon!

 



Kip Krumwiede, CMA, CPA, Ph.D., is the director of research for IMA. He can be reached at (201) 474-1732 or kkrumwiede@imanet.org.
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