An employee is using social media at work.

Social media is a part of daily life. Using Facebook, LinkedIn, or other platforms can provide feelings of positivity, productivity, and gratification. It can also feel like a huge waste of time and resources. On average, global internet users spend over two hours a day on social media.

A 2011 study evaluating motivation theory and why people use social media found that people use social media mainly because they enjoy it. The number of peers on social media, and its usefulness were secondary reasons. A study I conducted titled, “Snap Chat and Its Relationship to Student Well-Being,” found drawbacks to frequent usage. Increased social media usage is associated with decreased productivity and reduced work performance efficiency. Social media can also lead to conflict in the workplace. For example, miscommunication thrives online. Employees have also revealed private company information online.

Given the positives and negatives, how can modern workplaces make use of social media?

Clear Boundaries

Productively using social media in the workplace involves establishing clear boundaries and being disciplined about them. Personal boundaries might include limiting the amount of time you spend scrolling. Thoughtless scrolling can lead to spending  more time than anticipated on a social website, hindering productivity. Mangers can also help employees be more intentional about their social media use. Implementing a clear social media policy for your organization is one way to set those boundaries. Boundary setting is especially important in today’s virtual work environment where the lines between personal and professional time and space are blurred.

Social Media Policy

A company social media policy should include information about:

  • Who can use the organization’s social channels
  • Problems with sharing proprietary or confidential company information
  • Posting defamatory, derogatory, or inflammatory content about the organization, its clients, partners, or competitors
  • Requests for employees to interact with the organization’s social media channels

Your policy may also include suggestions for personal use of social media. You can’t control what employees do in their off-time and space. However, making it clear that those actions can affect the company may prevent incidents.

Social media is a part of our workplace life. But, being clear about expectations can keep social media use productive.

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