To answer that question, we first must examine the means available for modern day employees to voice their opinions and views.
Like it or not, social media vehicles such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs arm employees with a platform and means to voice their thoughts, opinions and concerns in real-time across the information super highway. To add some depth and validity to this, let me share some key statistics on social media, gathered from a Socialnomics.com YouTube post:
- It took TV 13 years and Internet four years to reach 50 million users. Facebook added 100 million users in nine months.
- There are over 200 million active blogs.
- 54 percent of bloggers post content daily.
- 35 percent of bloggers and tweeters post their opinions about products and brands.
- 1.5 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook daily.
- 25 percent of search results for the world's top 20 brands are linked to user generated content.
Taking into account the unfortunate layoffs, employee dismissals, forced retirement and negative impact to employee morale the current recession has had on the workforce, how might the accessibility of such vast social networks factor into employee retribution?
Let's consider the recent story coming out of Boston, where three Hyatt Hotels in the region laid off 100 housekeepers. While layoffs surely aren't unusual, especially in recent times, I'm sure the firestorm that erupted in the social media arena was anything but expected. Due to some questionable tactics deployed by Hyatt leading up to the layoffs, the story made its way into the social media channel, and within a day, numerous blog posts and online discussions were in progress, generating not only regional or national exposure, but global.
Because this medium presents instant, real-time exposure to the masses and is freely accessible from not only computers, but also Web-enabled cell phones, the only way to combat negative output is reactive at best. The damage done depends on when it's caught. As you might imagine, Hyatt immediately launched a campaign to counter the negatvity aimed at its brand. However, the damage had been done.
So, should organizations proactively monitor the social media channels in order to protect their brand and reputation? There is evidence that they already are. You may have heard the stories about people getting fired for commenting that their job is boring, ridiculing their boss, or speaking negatively about their organization. There is even a story about a person being fired for claiming to be too sick to use a computer, but then making posts on Facebook.
With all this said, I return to my original questions: How big is the impact of social media on your employment brand?
The answer? HUGE.
As the aforementioned YouTube video so candidly asks, "Do you care what people are saying about your brand" in social media?