A Taco Bell employee posts a picture of himself licking a stack of tacos in an actual Taco Bell. Excited about the topic of social media use on company time yet? 

Employees should be encouraged to use social media -- just not in a licking-tacos kinda way.

Rise in Social Media Usage

Thumbnail image for rsz_kendal_peiguss.jpg

Kendal Peiguss feels this way. The marketing programs manager and former social media manager responsible for the adoption and growth of social communities with SmartBear Software, Peiguss caught up with CMSWire after her presentation on the topic at last month's Gilbane Conference in Boston.

SmartBear, whose customers include developers, testers and operations professionals monitoring performance of their APIs, mobile, cloud-based and Web applications, began focusing on social media as a primary marketing platform late in 2012. Today, the majority of the marketing and sales teams have become regular users of Twitter and LinkedIn for business.

"People have bought into the powerful effect that it has on connecting with clients," Peiguss said.

Product teams are heavy users of Google Plus and Reddit, which is in line with the demographic of those platforms, said Peiguss, who estimated that two-thirds of SmartBear users are actively using social media.

Have a Clear Policy

So where do you start if your charged with steering employees toward valuable social-media use?

First, recognize this -- your employees are on it. According to Pew Research, 72 percent of all online adults are using social media sites.

"Ignoring the fact that your employees are on social media does not make it less true," Peiguss said.

What does a social media policy do? It allows employers, Peiguss said, to create an open dialogue with their team about what's appropriate on social. It's also, she said, a great time to encourage the use of it.

Address items like the consequences of inappropriate usage and defining harassment. "But it's also a good idea to encourage people to be active on LinkedIn two to three times per week or to participate in Twitter hashtags during live events," Peiguss said.

Have an 'Un-policy' 

An informal un-policy encourages social media more than it restricts it, Peiguss told us.

It should provide guidelines and direction for appropriate use, she said, but also training on how to use social for business.