You’ve likely heard the value of using social media to market your business, but what about using social media tools to improve how you work? Many managers are concerned their employees are wasting company time using social networks for personal use; however, they can be used to tackle problems and make better decisions at work.
In a recent report by Forrester, they found most ‘business decision-makers’ use social media for both business and personal uses (Facebook, which is predominantly used for personal reasons, is only exception). Moreover, forums and LinkedIn were the most popular social media outlets for business use. The graph below illustrates their findings.
So it’s not a question of can you use social media to help run your business, it’s how.
There are a number of ways people are using social media to help them make decisions at work. We are going to highlight the most commonly used social outlets and features you should be taking advantage of.
1. Communities or Forums
According to the Forrester study, forums are the most popular social tools among business decision makers. Why is this? Forums independent of a single brand are a great place to get unbiased opinions from experts, often peers, in a certain area and troubleshoot business problems or product flaws.
For example, developers might consider consulting a programming forum called Stack Overflow to find answers to code bugs. Technology sales reps could utilize the forum, Spiceworks, to seek advice on competing technologies and services. There are numerous forums at your disposal, depending on your field.
Alternatively, vendor or company forums are another highly popular place to get business help. Many businesses have product-specific forums so customers can get their questions answered more efficiently. WordPress, the blogging and website building software, has an extensive forum community for users to ask and answer product questions.
LinkedIn is by far the most popular social media outlet for completing office work. Managers can use it to connect with clients and prospective partners. Marketing departments can use the social network to update their company’s profile, post company news, and engage with their audience. And hiring managers can use it to post job openings and scout out potential candidates. You can even join groups related to your industry and location to network and stay up to date on the latest happenings.
3. Pinterest Boards
While we normally associate Pinterest with DIY projects and fashion, it can be used to organize ideas for your next project at work. Are you a graphic designer, food blogger, or photographer? What about a website developer or writer? Any task that requires a little inspiration or creativity can be pinned. Create a pin board for your project and pin colors, designs, products, images, or infographics – anything that serves as inspiration.
4. Twitter Trends
Are you a copywriter, journalist, or social media specialist? Do you spend time educating yourself on the current trends in your field? If your job requires you to stay up to date on the latest happenings (which ones don’t?), Twitter is a fantastic tool. By following relevant accounts and checking in to see what’s trending (i.e. anything that is proceeded by a hashtag is called a trend, as in #ocfair, #googleglass), you can quickly catch up on the latest. Moreover, you can even use Twitter Advanced Search to seek out tweets and trends related to your field.
More and more people are using social media both at home and at their desk. While social networks can be very distracting, they can also be extremely useful in an office setting. From asking questions, to recruiting, or getting a little inspiration for your next project, there is no doubt that social networks can play a valuable role in the workplace.
Image Source: “In Business, Everybody Uses Social Media For Work; The Question Is How.” Forester. July 17, 2013. (http://blogs.forrester.com/zachary_reiss_davis/13-07-17-in_business_everybody_uses_social_media_for_work_the_question_is_how?cmpid=pr:soc:tw:Shout+786615).