From Facebook fundraising to Tweeting for change, social media and volunteer engagement go perfectly together – perhaps because both are inherently social in nature. In this special series culled from discussions held at our 2011 Client Summit, we’re exploring the intersection of social media and employee volunteering.
Most companies, no matter how progressive, won’t be able to jump head first into the world of social media – especially when it comes to employee use. The biggest obstacle faced by volunteer programs is getting executives and other decision-makers to agree to open social media up to employees in the first place. Many companies block social media sites on work computers for confidentiality and/or productivity reasons.
Your hub for social media questions: Join the “Social Media and Employee Volunteering” discussion on LinkedIn.
Your CEO, COO, head of HR and other executives have many additional concerns that may not be addressed by the points above in the “Why?” section. The first step in convincing them is recognizing what their goals are for the company and for the volunteer program. Many employee volunteer programs strive to achieve certain levels of employee participation and activity, and to build stronger relationships with and among employees. As David J. Neff and Randall C. Moss suggest for nonprofits in their new book “The Future of Nonprofits,” you should tailor your proposal for social media use to the concerns of your executives.
Remind your execs that volunteering is a social interaction, just like social media. Adding the element of a social network to your employee volunteer program will reinforce the values and positive community elements that you build with each volunteer event, even if they are months apart.
Indeed, a 2010 study by Pew Research Center shows that people who are involved in social media and other online groups are significantly more likely to be involved in offline groups, especially voluntary activities. According to the study, the open and social nature of the online tools facilitates mobilization of individuals offline. Introducing social media to your employee volunteer program would thus energize them to participate.
Additionally, while many companies worry that social media use will decrease the productivity of employees, a recent TNO study revealed that using social media during working hours actually stimulates creativity and innovation among employees that can benefit businesses.
So making the case to your execs comes down to demonstrating how social media can help you meet your strategic goals for your employee volunteer program. As many of VolunteerMatch’s corporate clients express to us, it’s tough to measure the impact of these programs quantitatively, but qualitatively we all know when they’re working. So show your execs how social media can contribute to those qualitative goals.
Finally, there’s no doubt that your executives will feel more comfortable allowing your employees to engage in social media if you have a clear social media policy for your employees. This is the topic of the next post in the “Social Media and Employee Volunteering” series, so stay tuned.
(Click here to read more articles in the “Social Media & Employee Volunteering” series.)
Your New Hub for Social Media Questions
Has this series created more questions for you? Do you have a specific question you want help with? Do you have a story or best practice to share?
Contribute to the new “Social Media and Employee Volunteering” discussion in our LinkedIn Group. Here are the steps to take to join in:
See you there!