Years ago, there was a stigma around social media. Many companies ignored it simply because they didn't understand it. Worse yet, they feared using social media and even blocked all the networks from employee use at work. Times have obviously changed, and now more than ever before companies can empower employees to leverage their own social graph for the company's benefit. In a Proskauer Study, they found that more than 40 percent of employers considered it an advantage to allow employees to use social media for both business and non-business use. Today, it's normal to work for a company that has an internal social network and for people to promote their company work on their personal blog and/or on social networks. Employees who use social networks in support of their company become more valuable and effective in their work. I know this because I was one of those employees. I 'crowdsourced' answers to my questions on Twitter, and was able to leverage my status as a social media expert to get my company PR.
Here are five ways employees can use social media at work to support their companies while simultaneously building their own value and reputation.
1. Using Social Media to Impact Sales.
Employees can directly impact their company's sales by using blogs. 63 percent of employees have converted prospects into purchasers through their blog. When employees consistently write about their profession and industry, it attracts people with shared interests and over time, you develop an audience that can be monetized. If what an employee talks about on their blog is relevant to a product that their company is selling, it's a perfect match. By pushing the product on your blog and generating leads and sales for your company, you can better justify your position in the organization and have a better chance at promotions. You might even wind up in a sales position if you're good enough.
2. Recruiting with Social Media.
Employees can recruit top candidates for their company using social networks, especially LinkedIn. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff emailed his sales team and asked them to promote open sales positions to their LinkedIn profiles. The sales team posted 350 status updates on LinkedIn linking to their company's page, which were visible to about 159,000 professionals. This effort resulted in a 60 percent increase in sales employee referral positions. Employees benefit from helping their companies recruit in two main ways; First, companies offer bonuses to employees who refer professionals that are eventually hired, and second, by helping your manager find talent, you're perceived as someone who is going above and beyond.
3. Recognizing thought leadership through Social Media.
Employees who are creative and forward thinkers can make their company look like they are visionary. 56 percent of employees have seen their blog bring their company recognition as a thought leader in their industry. There are many examples of this, including Todd Defren at Shift, Jeremiah Owyang at Altimeter Group and Frank Eliason at CitiGroup. Each of these individuals have used social media to generate interest in their respective companies.
4. Increase collaboration with Social Media.
Using internal networks, employees can network with each other, come up with new ideas and solve problems. Many companies have white label platforms that allow you to blog, create wiki's and start forums. A SilkRoad Technology study reports that 49 percent of employees said that connecting with co-workers was the top reason to use social media while at work. Collaboration will become more important as more employees work remote. Learning how to use collaboration and social tools effectively is a skill that all employees need these days.
5. Marketing using Social Media.
Employees have the ability, through their networks, to promote their company's products and announcements. If you love your company, why wouldn't you want to share information about it? Not everyone who is following you will be interested, but those who are may retweet you or share the information to those who might be interested. Small businesses should have no choice but to take advantage of their talent's networks in order to get the message out on a minimal budget. Larger companies have a clear advantage in using their employees to promote.