Despite a strong focus over the years on the types of policies and restrictions being placed on employee’s social media use in the workplace, an equally important story regarding the growing use of social media among employer’s for business related purposes is also emerging.
This change can be seen through a simple comparison of the results of ERC’s Social Media in the Workplace surveys over time. First conducted in 2010, employers indicated that the primary obstacle preventing their organization from actively engaging in social media use was “a lack of knowledge or expertise in using [social media] tools”, Facebook was ranked fourth among the most common social networking sites used by employers for a small list of business related purposes, and responsibilities related to social media fell to HR and Recruitment type positions.
Two years later in the 2012 survey, the list of social media functions as well as the percentage of organizations making use of them almost doubled. In terms organizational structure in 2012, the bulk of these social media related responsibilities are most commonly falling into the realm of marketing.
Along with this expansion, some employers are learning to make adjustments in how they restrict social media use among their employees and instead are taking an active role in allocating the responsibilities related to social media in a professional capacity. For example, 22% of respondents to the 2012 ERC Social Media Survey indicate that their organization has at least one employee on staff whose primary purpose is to manage social media activities for the organization.
Similar patterns of growth are reinforced in several other ERC surveys, including the 2012 ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey and the 2013-2014 ERC Policies & Benefits Survey. Raging from more common external functions such as communications with clients & vendors (36%) or recruiting & hiring (52%) to the less common internal functions such as employee engagement (10%) or employee communications (9%), both surveys strongly suggest that employers are expanding both the width and depth of their social media use for specific business purposes.