Isn’t it time ALL employees were encouraged to use social media?

by | Nov 30, 2013

I’ve been banging this drum for years now – organisations should be encouraging all employees to use social media.

At a conference I spoke at yesterday, two PR legends, Professor Anne Gregory and Jørn Madslien referred in their presentations to the Edelman Trust Barometer and what some of the fascinating insights in the report mean for modern PR.

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 17.59.57Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 17.59.44

People are far more likely to trust information that comes from an organisation’s experts and ordinary members of staff than from the CEO.

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 18.05.05

A ‘person like yourself’ is very popular but yet it’s alway the big cheeses PRs pull out for interviews or persuade to blog/tweet/YouTube.

Much as I like to think there is no such thing as a person like me (I’m unique alright?!), I can easily see how people want to relate to and believe in those who live similar lives.

Also, your organisation will always have experts. Do you use them enough?

Communications and marketing people often always worry about their company’s reputation when staff are let loose on social media. But it’s a bigger risk to demand they stick to only personal use or tightly adhere to the corporate line.

The organisation’s reputation will improve as more credible, expert and trusted voices are heard. Social media is an easy way to let your colleagues outside the communications department to find their voice.

Social media gives an organisation a chance to get staff engaging with people like them and sharing information that has more value because it’s from a trusted source.

See also:
Unrestricted staff access to social media – case studies from a local authority
Your organisation doesn’t need a social media expert, it needs its experts on social media


  1. Phil Jewitt

    Interesting post, thanks Helen. I see what the graph is getting at but us PR folk can pick out the best bits and talk stuff up so I see that CEOs are on the rise. Will be interesting to see the trends in 2014. That said however, I’ve found that having people at the top of your organisation who get it and use social media and encourage others is a massive boost.

    I think there is a mis understanding by some that because ALL staff have access to social media that they will ALL be tweeting and posting and not have time for ‘real work’. Many won’t, even when they understand what it is. I think many will just look round and see what it is about. Some will make tentative steps. I think many probably don’t yet know that you can use social networks for research and finding others who are doing the same work as they are. I know in Leeds we promote using networks to find content and people to connect with and share knowledge.

    Perhaps it is about providing (and this needs really promoting, and I note John Popham is promoting this currently) a wider awareness for those in positions to give permission/endorse/support use of use social media that there is appropriate training, guidance and support available for staff who will be running accounts. Managers who are supportive and understand what it takes to successfully run an account and are prepared to train staff and let them experiement, will probably find they create the best use of social media. Managers like that probably also have the most empowered and trusted staff too and the benefits that can bring in that staff will have pride in their work.

    In this day and age there is no excuse for people in senior positions to say I don’t get this stuff, so I’m not prepared to support it. If there is training, support and guidance in place and the will to do it, and more importantly they have the opportunity to find out what it is all about, then it’s actually holding back the potential to improve a service.

  2. MarCommsKenny

    Very interesting Helen. I briefly had a similar conversation on Friday through Twitter about this; but instead of asking isn’t it about time, I was pondering how.

    I think in debates about this we need to look to the position we want to get to then work back. So, if for example, we are advocating all or all the most appropriate staff are, say, granted a Twitter account on joining in the same way as they receive an email address, how is that logistically going to work when there are perhaps 10,000 staff, or even 100?

    What is the naming convention for Twitter handles (I’m only using Twitter as an example) and how is that managed. So, does that mean developing or sourcing software that will effectively and efficiently create appropriate handles; or a corporate-level contract with Twitter.

    That is of course just one small element; there’s training, understanding audience habits (research), evidencing the difference the option of engaging through social media will make to people and the existing service on offer, and much more.

    I think once that is all laid out at a strategic level it will be far easier to work backward to ask and support the question, Isn’t it time ALL employees were encouraged to use social media?

  3. Dan Blundell (@danblundell)

    I have wondered more recently that an interesting approach might be to set up social media accounts for employees as part of their employment – whether they use them or not is up to them but it could then be easily and actively encouraged.

    So a new starter with the company has their email, computer log in, phone and such all set up but also has a series of social accounts attached to them. It’s an easy process from an administration point of view and helps to break down that taboo that is staff on social media through active encouragement.

    This approach (although I’ve not entirely thought it through!) could do two things – standardises the approach to things like usernames/handles and at the same time actively encourages employees to take part. It’s far easier to introduce and engage when something is part of the norm, rather than an optional extra.



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Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds

Author of this post

Hel is social media trainer and boss of Comms Creatives. She has been working in comms since 2005, and has been brushing up her expertise in social media for brands since the good old days of MySpace. She also draws the Comms Cartoons, and is usually attached to a mug of coffee.

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