Social Media for Managers

by Theresa Truscott

What you need to do about it

This information leads directly to the question most managers ask: What do I do about social media?

The answer has several parts, but the first and most important is simple.

Fear not!

Don’t be afraid of social media! A common misconception is that social media is a giant time-waster that diminishes the organisation’s productivity and funds. Visions of an employee neglecting customers to update their Facebook status or, even more frightening, sharing inappropriate or damaging comments or information with the public sometimes throws managers off the topic entirely.

Social media, when used appropriately, is a powerful instrument. It all hinges on who uses it and how it is used.

Learn about it

Conquering fear often requires understanding. The more you know about something, the less you fear it. Managers need to know the basics about how social media works, not become experts. After all, one doesn’t need to know everything about something in order to use it effectively.

Consider approaching social media, not from the point of view of marketing and broadcast, but in terms of engagement and feedback. Discern whether certain software is a reliable litmus test of employee and/or customer response. Understand if, for your organisation, the investment needed to conduct it properly is worth the financial and human/time cost.

Finally, you will need to know what distinguishes a good social media policy from a bad one, and why social media policies differ from many other policy documents you might already use.

Create a policy

A policy is key, and should be the third part of how to manage social media.

We will discuss fashioning a policy in more detail (see Things your people should do and Things your people should NOT do). Senior managers need to know how to enthuse and inspire their direct reports about social media, and ask questions such as ‘How do we make this part of best practice?’

A well-crafted policy empowers employees, and clearly defines roles and responsibilities.

Communicate expectations

Finally, it is all about communicating this policy in an effective manner to all employees. It is important to include the key elements of your social media policy in any induction training you provide. This ensures that people are made aware of what the organisation considers fair use of personal social networks. This training should also contain details of any sanctions regarding content that may be deemed inappropriate (for example, the posting of pictures or comments about the company or work colleagues).