A couple of months ago, I was approached by an old client. Rife with anxiety and solicitude, he explained to me that he was struggling to recruit high-quality candidates. The ineffectiveness of his recruiting efforts was not the result of a lack of effort. He’d retained one of the premier search firms in the country to assist in their recruiting efforts. Despite the firm’s consistent ability to identify and pique the interest of high-quality candidates, initial intrigue came to a sharp cessation once they were informed of the hiring company's identity. After some research, we identified poor brand image, a lack of brand recognition, and feeble social media presence as the primary drivers behind the unfortunate phenomenon.
Social media is, in many ways, akin to a double-edged sword. On one hand, social media use can trigger rapid declines in employee engagement and productivity levels, costing employers an estimated $650 billion each year. On the other hand, social media can act as a formidable vehicle for helping a company establish a stronger voice and more effectively promote its image and brand. Indeed, customers, prospective partners, and candidates consistently turn to social media when evaluating potential companies to engage with. As an executive, it's important to embrace the potential of social media, while simultaneously making all efforts to bypass the common pitfalls. Effective social media use requires a concerted effort. As Seth Godin explains, “Build it, and they will come” only works in the movies. Social Media is a 'build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.'”
1. Increased brand awareness
Social media can act as a powerful force in augmenting a company’s image, brand, and identity. As Guy Kawasaki once explained “A large social media presence is important because it's one of the last ways to conduct cost-effective marketing. Everything else involves buying eyeballs and ears." Social media affords your company a scalable means of engaging and nurturing its prospective and current customers. A strong social media presence can empower you to establish higher levels of trust and rapport with your customer base. Research by Convince and Convert found that more than half of U.S. consumers (53%) who follow brands on social media platforms are more loyal to their brands. As an executive, cultivating a social media presence that projects a consistent image and resonates with your audience can pay enormous dividends. As Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, once asserted, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
2. Talent acquisition
While executives tend to appreciate the advantages of social media use in the context of marketing and branding efforts, they tend to overlook social media’s vast potential to advance recruiting efforts. The client I introduced you to above is one of many employees who has fallen victim to this trap. The reality is such that potential candidates zealously turn to social media when assessing prospective employees. According to research by Betterteam, 62% of applicants research potential employers on social media prior to submitting an application. What's more, half of applicants would outright refuse to work at a company with a bad reputation, even if gifted with a pay increase.
As an executive, it’s well worth the effort to augment your social media presence and ensure that it’s consistent with the values and ideals you hope to find in potential candidates. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner explains, “Company profiles not only represent who you are and your company’s identity, but they enable you to build your talent brands, establish the way in which you’re going to recruit and how you recruit, and build word-of-mouth around your products and services,”
3. Enhanced collaboration
Social media can move waters in terms of increasing collaboration among your employees. The most effective executives recognize that workplace social media adoption must extend beyond the use of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Enterprise collaboration platforms such as Slack, social wikis, and other tools can empower employees to strengthen communication, sever departmental and divisional silos, and increase the potential for collaboration. Platforms such as these should complement more traditional social media platforms. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, 82% of employees believe that social media can improve work relationships and 60% believe that social media use strengthens organizational decision-making processes.
While the potential benefits of workplace social media use loom large, executives and companies have yet to exploit social media to its fullest potential. A recent study by McKinsey revealed that most companies are not leveraging social media to its fullest potential. According to the research, if companies were to fully implement social media use (for example, building and adopting internal social media sites), they could increase employee productivity by 20-25%. As an executive, it's your responsibility to devote time to carefully crafting a social media strategy that will strengthen interpersonal relationships among your employees and allow you to exploit social media to its utmost potential.
Contrary to popular belief, workplace social media use is not inherently bad. Social media use can function as a potent force for good. As an executive, it’s essential that you take the time to diagnose how your employees are currently leveraging social media in your workplace and identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. My experience uniquely primes me to assist in conducting and executing a comprehensive social media audit. Self-awareness, distraction prevention training, the enactment of employee assistance programs (EAP) aimed at curbing social media overuse and addiction can all prove very effective in triggering a shift in mindset and action. As Sean Gardner, who has been identified by Forbes as the #1 Social Media Power Influencer, reminds us, “Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources.”
I care deeply about helping leaders and advancing the human resources profession. I have authored two books, The Art of Executive Coaching and Stress-less Leadership, and maintain a regular blog. I am also a leading contributor for The Society For Human Resources Management, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Association of Talent Development.
As an active animal advocate, I donate 100% of all book proceeds to animal welfare.
The opinions in this article are my own, and do not reflect those of my publishers or employers.