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April 9, 2014

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Social Technology: It Can’t Work without Trust and Training

By Karen J. Bannan

Attendees of the Human Capital Summit and Expo last week got a little advice about social media: Don’t work too hard on it unless your employees already trust your company. But the information was tempered with another piece of data: Since social media is linked to both company and employee success, gaining that trust – and fast – is something every company should shoot for, according to China Gorman, CEO of the Great Places to Work Institute.

When employees feel they can trust their employer and managers, they are more likely to behave appropriately and say positive things about your company on social media. “If your culture is built on trust, then you can look at social technology as a tool. A very powerful tool,” Gorman said during her presentation, Creating a Trust Based Culture that Supports Social Connections and Collaboration.

One recent study backs Gorman’s assertion up. Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism, crafted by press relations firm Weber Shandwick, found that nearly six out of 10 (56%) of respondents have defended their employers to family, friends, or on a public website, blog, or newspaper. The same study found that half of respondents have posted messages, pictures or videos on social media about their employers “often” or “from time-to-time.” Almost four in 10 (39%) have shared praise and positive comments about their employers; 16 percent have shared criticism or negative comments online.

Meanwhile, only 30 percent of all employees surveyed said they were “deeply engaged” with their employers. The lesson here: No matter where you are in your social media journey it bears noting that employees are already talking about your company. It’s up to you to make sure what they are saying portrays your organization in a positive light.

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