Should your company be on social media (Yes or No)?
If you posed this question to anyone under 35, I think they would look at you like you had flip phones for hands. I think the 40 and over crowd silently wonders if all this sharing is worth a nickel. (Remember coins?) The older set doesn't want to say this for fear of sounding old, but as a 36-year-old who sits on the defining line between millennials and Generation X, I see both sides. Here is the answer. Yes, if you have a good company.
No, if your company sucks.
That's it. You can stop reading now if you want. But, please continue if you want to unearth the sophisticated method on which my hypothesis is built.
Social media is a fantastic tool for consumers, potential employees, employers, and anyone trying to gain a better insight into an organization. In the very long ago, you couldn't gain much valuable information about a company's culture through anything outside of their website. But websites are mostly bull crap. It can be difficult to garner valuable insights from a company's website. It's generally a bunch of big headlines with ambiguous claims, "People are our business" and "Smart work for cool clients." It sounds nice, but it doesn't tell anything about what is really going on behind the scenes. If you're trying to make an informed decision about a company you want something you can dissect a little deeper.
Review websites like Yelp can be misleading. Mostly, because it's written by people who write Yelp reviews (I have written a few, and I regret all of them). Glassdoor is moderately helpful, but totally anonymous. An anonymous reviews are as trustworthy as a man in a ski mask.
The following three points are why I believe social media is the truest window into a company's real culture.
- You're only hurting yourself. The company puts out content they want you to see. They made a deliberate decision and said, Yeah, this is good, this is us, lets share it. This is the number one reason it is better than any review site. It's even better than word-0f-mouth. In every post, every pic, every clever caption, they are telling you exactly what kind of an organization they believe themselves to be. A word on word-of-mouth: It is wildly overrated. When someone tells me, oh, you'll love this restaurant! I'm always responding jack-assily in my head like, Why would you assume I'd like Ham & Gerkin Provisions? Ham is weird and I hate pickles. Just because I like you, does not mean I like your gerkins.
- How phony is your bologna? (gross) A counter argument to my first point is that social media isn't real. Organizations are just posting what they want you to see. This is true. But, no crap. You know what else isn't real; first impressions, leased cars, and the shit we tell ourselves. Just like everything else, we use our common sense and BS detectors to wade through what is true and what is phony.
- Walk the talk. Does your organization have a bunch of values written all over your office? That's good. If they're serious about them they probably should. But social media is where you can see if they're living them out. Social media is an awesome platform to promote more than your humble brags. It's where you can show your employees you give a damn about them. It's a place you can tell your clients you appreciate their loyalty. It's a digital customer service window with stadium seating. And the stadium is filled with existing and potential customers. Which makes it the greatest customer service tool to which we've been granted access. If you have a great company, you can now share realtime interactions on Facebook Live. If your employees are happy let them show it with SnapChat and Stories. If you care about customers, solve their concerns in the comment section.But, if your company sucks, you're better off closing the windows and waiting for this whole social media fad to fade away.