Social media is more than just a passing fad. A 2011 poll by Ipsos Reid found that 50 percent of Canadians have at least one social networking profile and the prevalence is spanning generations. Eighty-six percent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 have a Twitter account, Facebook page or other social account. Among 35 to 54 year olds, 62 percent have active profiles and those aged 55 or older are becoming more active, with 43 percent having a social media profile.
But when it comes to social media at work, executives are divided on the value and the use.
A new poll of 400 Canadian business leaders by Queen’s School of Business found that while four-in-ten (39 percent) of bosses say social media is something that they need to use – whether they want to or not – nearly the same number (35 percent) of bosses say they use social media heavily because it presents a good business opportunity. The remaining 24 percent say social media does not add any value. Still, 72 percent of executives say they plan on investing the same or more on social media this year over last year.
How social media is used by employees remains worrisome for executives. The vast majority of executives (91 percent) agree that employees should be mindful that even when using social media on their own time they are still representing the company.
“What happens on Twitter doesn’t just stay on Twitter,” said Kate Rowbotham, Professor of Human Resource Management, Queen’s School of Business in a statement. “People may feel that their participation in social media is personal but the boss doesn’t necessarily agree that your opinions are just your own. We have seen a number of examples of overexposure on social channels by individuals that has had a negative impact on the overall organization.”
Companies report using social media for a number of business purposes. Increasing brand awareness is perceived by executives as the top benefit of using social media, mentioned by four in ten (39 per cent) of respondents. Rounding out the top five responses on the number one benefit were: recruiting talent, gaining a deeper understanding of their customers, getting new business/ growth and networking.
Other highlights from the Queen’s School of Business study:
• Close to nine out of ten business leaders (88 percent) say that participation in social media after hours can potentially have an “extremely positive or negative” impact on the company’s brand.
• One third (34 percent) disagree with the notion that what their employees do on their own time is their own business.
• Two in ten bosses (22 percent) feel social media use by employees outside 9-5 should be monitored.
• Over two thirds of executives (68 percent) report that their organization has policies on the use of social media at work, while two in ten (18 percent) forbid social media usage at work.
• When considering a new employee, one third of execs view social media experience at least as important as speaking a second language or having international work experience, and one quarter view social media experience as just as important as years of overall experience or industry experience.
• 51 per cent of execs “strongly agree” and a further 28 per cent “agree” that social media is making it harder for older employees to compete in the workforce.
You might also be interested in: Why 37 percent of companies use social media to research job candidates
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