Study: Employers to boost social media outreach

Fifty-five percent of employers plan to expand their social media usage in 2012, according to a survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management.

The survey, An Examination of How Social Media Is Embedded in Business Strategy and Operations, also reveals that 40 percent of respondents have implemented an official social media policy, and 56 percent of social media policies include a provision outlining the organization’s right to monitor social media usage. Another 68 percent of social media policies detail a code of conduct for employee use while networking, 66 percent of social media policies have a code of conduct for personal employee use. Fifty-five percent of social media policies also include guidelines for social media communications.

Of the respondents, 52 percent report having social media as part of their marketing strategies, and the marketing staff leads social media efforts among 35 percent of the respondents. Other than marketing departments, social media is led by information technology departments at 17 percent, HR departments at 14 percent and management at 14 percent.

“Right now, HR is often the go-to department for creating and enforcing social media policies,” says Mark J. Schmit, Ph.D., SPHR, vice president of research at SHRM. “As social media becomes more defined in business beyond marketing activities, HR’s role will continue to grow and evolve as well.”

Among other findings, 28 percent of respondents have a social media strategy, and larger organizations as well as multinational organizations are more likely to have a social media strategy as opposed to smaller employers and those with U.S.-based operations. Forty-three percent of respondents that have social media policies rely on their HR department to create those, and 44 percent of respondents rely on HR to enforce those policies.

The survey also shows that 39 percent of respondents monitor their employees’ social media use on company-owned computers and handheld devices, and 33 percent of respondents have disciplined an employee for violating the social media policy in 2011. Twenty-one percent of respondents rely on analytics or reporting tools to measure the return-on-investment for their social media use.

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