How to get a Return on Company Investment in Social Media


LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – employees who use social media at work can be a challenge. For one 55-year-old CEO, it had reached a crisis. Employees seemed distracted as they interacted with friends, browsed other job opportunities and tweeted away.

The CEO was certain that productivity was down and that employees should be completely focused on serving customers and doing their jobs. Plus, there had been instances of employees using social media irresponsibly.

Recently, he had been forced to fire a top sales person because of damaging photos he had posted to Facebook that depicted his antics after a few too many drinks at a work-related social function.

Overall, the photos made the employees, and the company, look bad. It was clear that action needed to be taken to manage the challenges presented by social media.


In response to the issues created by the use of social media at work, the CEO decided to block access to all social media tools during work hours for a 90-day period. His hope was that this would solve the productivity problem and eliminate the potential for employees to hurt the company brand through inappropriate use.

What he didn’t anticipate was the backlash from staff. Over the next three months, three very talented employees, all aged 30 or younger, left the company.

Among their reasons: the ban on social media at work.

Employee morale began to decline, there was extensive complaining about the new policy and employees began restricting their work hours to a traditional nine-to-five day, no longer willing to give any discretionary time to the company.


Social media is here to stay. Among members of our CEO forums, 66% of CEOs and 85% of other executives are using LinkedIn to expand business networks, build new partnerships and gain new customers.

And when it comes to the Generation Y crowd, mixing work and social time is just how they live.

Telling them they can’t be socially active while at work is akin to being grounded.

What’s a baby boomer to do? Clearly there have to be limits on the use of social media, but what makes sense?

Here are a few tips:

  • Learn from experts how companies are getting a return on the use of social media tools by using them to accelerate customer service, reduce costs and grow business.
  • Develop a plan aligned with your business to use social media strategically.
  • Establish very clear guidelines for social media use. Deciding who should use social media tools and how they should be used will prevent mishaps and maintain productivity.
  • Build awareness of social media guidelines throughout the entire company.
  • Praise responsible use and ensure consequences are clear if social media is used irresponsibly.
  • Be an exemplar of responsible social media use.


This article from Business in Vancouver June 19, 2012
Business in Vancouver ( has been publishing in-depth local business news, analysis and commentary since 1989. The newspaper also produces a weekly ranked list of the biggest companies and players in a wide range of B.C. industries and commercial sectors, monthly features and industry-focused sections that arm its subscribers with a complete package of local business intelligence each week.