The Gatehouse Blog

Facebook Fridays – a great way for employers to experiment with social media

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know my views on social media – I’m passionate about the potential of this technology to revolutionize internal comms and enhance relationships at work.

But many employers are running scared – blocking access or reprimanding employees who dare to visit sites like MySpace, Bebo and Facebook during work time.  Personally, I think they’re short sighted. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) thinks so too, a stance I applaud.

I’ve written about this in a recent article ‘Social media face-off a sign of the times’ for the CIPR magazine, Profile and its online sister, Profile Extra. Take a look. My basic view is that we, as internal communicators, should encourage employers to experiment with blogging, social networking, video sharing and the like, and help provide frameworks and policies that encourage employees to use these sites in a responsible way. 

So I’m always delighted to read about companies that are embracing social media.

One such organization is Serena Software, a company headquartered in San Mateo, California. Their idea of ‘Facebook Fridays’ has generated a lot of coverage, both supportive and critical, but I don’t mind repeating it as I think it’s a great way to toe-dip into the world of social media.

The idea is pretty simple – every Friday Serena employees are given one hour to use the social networking site to connect with coworkers, family, friends and customers. Apparently 85% of employees are now using this site regularly, many of them to hook up with colleagues and customer contacts.

Of course this concept wouldn’t work in all companies, but I think there are many environments where just such an approach would work wonders. Just because Serena is Californian software company headed up by a Facebook convert does not mean that such a policy couldn’t work in, for instance, a UK-based financial services business.  I’d love to see some UK companies following their lead.

For more views, check out this recent post on the Melcrum Blog and listen to the interview with Serena CEO Jeremy Burton on Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson’s FIR podcast.