Allowing Employees Onto Social Networks

Workers who use social media are among the most positive voices online and almost half of them would strongly recommend their company’s products and services. This is the finding of a recent Forrester Research study: Do your employees advocate for your company?

Forrester surveyed 5,519 information workers across the US and Europe. The researchers ‘s methodology was to ask, on a ten-point scale, “How likely are you to recommend your company’s products or services to a friend or family member?” The study counted people as promoters if they rate this a nine or ten, neutral if they rate it a seven or eight, and detractors for zero through six. Key finding included:

  • Almost half (49%) of information workers are detractors, and only 27% were promoters.
  • Canada had the best scores and France, the worst. But even in Canada, there are more detractors than promoters.
  • Directors, VPs, and executives are net promoters, but individual workers and managers/supervisors are net detractors.
  • Among US workers, the best scores are in design, HR, and sales. With a net score of -10%, marketers are actually more likely to be detractors than promoters for their own products.
  • Customer service workers are among the most likely to be detractors, a worrying finding considering they are in the front lines.

On the surface these finding seem to dictate an all out ban on employees using social media. But wait! The study also showed that workers who use social media are among the most positive. Almost half (48%) would strongly recommend a company’s products and services and only 22% were detractors, for a net score of 26% — among the highest of the groups surveyed.

So what does this mean? Companies that work to improve their reputation among internal audiences will build a strong asset. By listening to employees and implementing their ideas to improve products, services and operations, or any part of work and life, will deliver a highly motivate workforce and will unleash an army of brand ambassadors.

Often, the organisations I work with start with an attitude of fear of loss of control when it comes to letting employees onto social networks. But this misses the mark, entirely.

Resistance is futile. Your employees are already on Facebook, Twitter and any number of online social networks. The key is to get the essentials of your business right, and to be seen to do so by those who work for you. It’s folly to waste the fantastic opportunity to have your highly-motivated, loyal team members as your key online allies.

Thanks to @shel for the heads up on this report on his recent FIR podcast.

Sherrilynne Starkie is a consultant at PDMS. For almost 18 years, Sherrilynne has been advising blue-chip organisations on both sides of the pond, covering Britain, Canada and the United States. For three years, Sherrilynne was the Tech Talk columnist for the Isle of Man newspapers. She serves on the steering committee for Isle of Man Women in Business, is on the Executive Council for the Isle of Man Junior Chamber of Commerce. In the past she was on the management committee for the Isle of Man British Computer Society and the marketing committee of Junior Achievement.