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Social media valued in business – but for leaders, not staff


Source: McCann Fitzgerald; Amárach Research

Source: McCann Fitzgerald; Amárach Research

Source: McCann Fitzgerald; Amárach Research

THE use of social media in the workplace is regarded as being good for business and its leaders, but not necessarily for staff.

Three in four bosses admit to having a Facebook account in a bid to boost their business online, with 63pc believing it is good for work. Half are also on Twitter and 71pc on LinkedIn.

But just 18pc allow staff full access to social media, according to research from law firm McCann FitzGerald.

Paul Lavery of McCann Fitzgerald said there is a growing awareness among businesses that social media and digital technology are here to stay.

"In our view, we are only now at the beginning of the digital revolution for businesses," he said.

"Already, we are seeing clients embracing the new opportunities presented by digital technology to engage with, win and retain customers in ways that would have been impossible even in the recent past."

While criticised at times – particularly surrounding the recent Neknomination controversies and employees inadvertently posting messages about their bosses on public pages, or ringing in sick after a well-photographed night out – social media is also said to have revolutionised the way businesses communicate with their customers and staff.

But with 80pc of adults now online, experts say businesses need to have a clear digital strategy to embrace the internet and market.

One-third of bosses questioned have already invested in data storage solutions such as cloud computing; 43pc of corporates have hired specific digital skills, and a quarter have hired staff with specific digital skills they deem necessary to respond to the new realities.

The vast majority of firms – 63pc – expect social media to be relevant to their business in 2014. Few, however, expect social media to work as a sales channel.

The survey, compiled by Amarach, was carried out among 250 senior Irish business leaders and decision-makers at large corporates, SMEs and micro-businesses, and looked at their corporate outlook for 2014 including their attitude to digital technology and social media.

It showed they used social media more than the wider population.

* 72pc of business leaders are present on LinkedIn compared to 23pc of the general public.

* 74pc have a Facebook account compared with 55pc of the average population.

* Almost twice as many business leaders have a Twitter account, with 50pc present compared with 27pc.

The business decision-makers surveyed are themselves quite sophisticated users of social media.

Almost 40pc of Facebook users log on daily, with 14pc on LinkedIn every day, and 15pc logging on to Twitter daily. Another 22pc report they access Google+ daily.

But the same bosses are tackling the dilemma of managing staff access to social media.

Just one-sixth of firms surveyed allow staff access all the time, with 48pc offering limited access, and 18pc blocking staff access completely.

Annette Hogan, partner and head of technology and innovation at McCann FitzGerald, said the research shows the proliferation of social media usage in Irish business and how companies are embracing the opportunities.

"However, we should not be blind to the challenges that the digital future will bring, whether in terms of managing intellectual property, adapting to innovative technologies or implementing privacy."

Irish Independent