Social Media in the Workplace: Common Sense Goes a Long Way

Harnessing the power of the online community can help to build your brand, but tackle the pitfalls before they compromise your company’s productivity.

Posted by Lindsay Khan in on November 9th, 2011

How much time do your employees spend on social media sites? Social media can be a distraction for employees, prompting employers to ask “where do we draw the line?” There are three ways you can deal with social media in the workplace:

  • Banning it
  • Struggling to balance it
  • Welcoming it – leveraging it to provide benefits for the company.

In the BNET video “Controlling Social Networking in the Workplace,” Lynne Lancaster, Co-Founder of Bridgeworks, offers advice to managers who are worried about the impact of social media on their companies:

The 3 Ps

Some of Lancaster’s key points from the video include the 3 Ps that she feels every employer should address when it comes to social media in the workplace. Lancaster’s 3 Ps are:

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Policy: Make sure your employees know what the social media policy is. Managers also need to be aware of what’s stated in the company policy because they need to train employees and enforce the policy.

Practice: Help people understand what is and what isn’t appropriate, so that way they know what they can and can’t do.

Personal: Personal coaching may be needed to help some employees understand what’s considered acceptable “social media” behavior. In the video, Lancaster shows that having a social media site open on a computer screen when the boss is around probably isn’t wise – so let employees know that.

Common Sense

A lot of employers struggle with drawing the lines around social media in the workplace. Some employees might be using social media for constructive, business-related purposes, while others use it for personal reasons only. In the video, Lancaster suggests treating social media like any other type of personal time at work – if employees abuse it, call them on it. When it comes to monitoring productivity, Lancaster says that employers need to pay attention to whether or not employees are getting their work done. If they are, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. If not, well, that’s another story.

The most important message from the video is to teach employees to use common sense when using social media at work. Lancaster recommends treating social media the same way you would any other policy or workplace activity. Employees should be taught not to visit inappropriate websites or engage in inappropriate conversations.

Getting the Hang of Social Media

There are lots of examples of companies that have harnessed social media to build their brands and enhance relationships with customers and others. In the video below, Tyler Cyr, Web Communications Manager at Dunkin’ Brands, sits down with Brian Solis to talk about the different social media activities at Dunkin’ and how they’ve paid off for the company. Cyr offers some great insight into how Dunkin’ Brands puts the skills of social media savvy employees to use for the brand.


Marketing Coordinator

Lindsay Khan is the marketing manager for i-Sight Software. With an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree in marketing from the University of Ottawa, she brings business acumen to the subjects she covers for the company blog and website. Lindsay compiles monthly newsletters, writes and promotes downloadable guides and press releases, promotes webinars and manages our online communities.

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