Blog Archives

Spring Cleaning: 5 Fresh, Budget-Friendly PR and Marketing Tips

I’ve asked some of my favorite bloggers to guest blog and provide us with some of their favorite creative and affordable marketing tips. 

Check out what Karen Hendricks has to say about making the most of your social media platforms.

Broom,_sponge_and_towelSpring cleaning isn’t limited to dust bunnies under the bed. Did you know… you may have virtual dust bunnies lurking in your social media and marketing accounts? This is the perfect time of year to freshen up your marketing strategy, evaluate and consider adding a few new marketing tools—all with a budget-friendly approach. Here are five ways to put a little springtime sparkle into your marketing mix:

1. Facebook Facelift: Give your business or organization a fresh look on Facebook by uploading a new top image. This is a great rule of thumb to follow at least once per quarter or season. This instantly sets the tone on your account as a current, relevant source of information. According to a study by Vocus, Facebook fans are a brand’s most valuable customers, with 79% of your fans more likely to purchase your products/services as compared to non-Facebook fans… so give them a fresh “face” atop your latest content. Remember the dimensions for Facebook’s cover image are 851 x 315 pixels.

2. Blogging Bling: When is the last time you updated your company’s or organization’s blog? According to Blogging.org, 60% of all businesses have a blog, but a whopping 65% haven’t updated it within the past year.  A blog is the perfect example of content marketing at its best—especially if you take advantage of a free, easy-as-pie WordPress account. The only investment is your time spent writing and adding effective images—a key component to higher engagement rates.

3. LinkedIn Luster: It’s been about a year and a half since the professional networking site LinkedIn unveiled its Company Pages feature. Since then, 2.6 million companies have developed company pages, including all Fortune 500 companies. Many small businesses and non-profits have yet to take advantage of this free marketing tool, with valuable access to the 200 million professionals currently on LinkedIn. When you create a Company Page, invite your customers to provide endorsements, share your business news, and begin creating a buzz on a professional level. You can even advertise jobs or scout for potential new hires. For inspiration, check this post on the LinkedIn blog, with tips from the top 10 best company pages of 2012.

4. Add Polish with Pinterest:  Last summer, Mashable reported that Pinterest users were following more brands than Facebook or Twitter users. I think the main reason why boils down to Pinterest’s focus on images. It’s easier to “see” what you like rather than “read” about your favorite brands, causes or businesses. If you haven’t yet created a Pinterest account for your business or organization—or if you haven’t added new content recently, polish your image with a free Pinterest account. Make sure plenty of your pins link back to your core marketing presence, your website, to ultimately drive traffic to your doorstep.

5. Add email marketing muscle: Don’t discount good old fashioned email marketing! It’s still a wonderfully viable way to engage with and grow your core customer base.  See the Inbound Marketing blog for their recent “23 Tweetable Stats on Email Marketing Trends” and it’s bound to put some spring into your marketing step.

If you aren’t currently using an email marketing service, consider the following: one of the gold standards in the industry, Constant Contact offers a free 60-day trial period that’s especially helpful for small businesses since the initial free contact list is limited to 100 or fewer contacts. Otherwise, paid accounts on Constant Contact will not break your bottom line, and non-profits receive a 15% discount Additional budget-friendly options include Vertical Response, which has a free option for all 501 (c)(3) organizations, and Mad Mimi which offers a free base email program for up to 2,500 contacts and up to 12,500 emails per month. Make sure to dust off your writing skills as well — 64% of email recipients say they open an email because of the subject line.

Karen Hendricks, Hendricks Communications

Karen Hendricks, Hendricks Communications

Karen Hendricks, President/Owner of Hendricks Communications, focuses on public relations, marketing and freelance writing/photography. Learn more at HendricksCommunications.com and follow her on Twitter @karenhendricks9.

Social Media Tips from Debbie Friez of BurrellesLuce

Discovered this terrific Slideshare presentation from local social media expert, Debbie Friez, Vice President of Major Accounts at BurrellesLuce.  She offers terrific tips for getting the most out of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Check it out!

Need to Know Updates to LinkedIn Company Pages

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

If you’re going to build a presence on social media, it really helps to have a savvy graphic designer and a YouTube video producer on board, because these branding elements are becoming increasingly prominent on the major channels.

Earlier this year, Facebook created the “Cover Image” requirement.

Not too long ago, Twitter introduced a similar “cover image” option.

Now LinkedIn presents one, too!

Of course, all these images are different sizes and appear in different contexts, so they all require different graphic design approaches.

As you know, we help clients build and update their LinkedIn Company profiles.   At Fletcher Prince, we believe it’s vital for every company, association and nonprofit to build a robust presence on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online network.  LinkedIn has more than 175 million members in over 200 countries.  In 2012, LinkedIn users will conduct more than 5 billion professional searches.

LinkedIn has made some changes to the look of LinkedIn Company profiles, so I wanted to let you know about these changes.

1. Cover images.  One important feature is that Company Pages now offer a “cover-image” style rectangular image to show off your brand. That’s especially  nice on this platform because the two logo images you are required to provide for a Company Page are quite small, and it is a design challenge to make them appear legible, for some brands.

Here’s how a LinkedIn Company Page looks without a cover image.  Like a department store window with nothing in it — a missed opportunity!

And here’s how a LinkedIn Company Page looks tricked out with a new image — much better!

2. Company Status Updates.  Just as you can update your Twitter profile or Facebook profile, LinkedIn Company Pages now allow you to update your Page with a short message, which can include a link.  The posts can be up to 500 characters (including spaces).

Up to 20 status updates will be active at a time.  LinkedIn users and followers can “like” your status update when they see it on the stream on their home pages or when they visit your Company Page.

Yes, you now have another task to add to your social media “to-do” list!  Aim to update your Company Page with status updates several times a week, at the beginning and end of the work day during the work week, when people tend to check in to LinkedIn.

As elsewhere, the updates should be short, relevant, timely, and useful.  And don’t post every hour.  If you  post an excessive amount of status updates, your Page may be deleted.

You can use status updates to post news about your company, job openings, industry news, press releases, blog posts, etc.  Build power in the update by including a link and call to action. Stand out on LinkedIn by posting YouTube video links and drive more traffic to your company videos.

Now this is where you are really going to need to update your LinkedIn Company Page “profile” images to something quite legible — which for most of you is going to mean a logo design service.  That’s because these Company Status Updates will appear in the stream and your logo will appear right alongside it.  So these logos are more prominent than ever on the “new” LinkedIn.  Don’t try to make an existing logo fit in each of these custom dimensions.  It just won’t work.

3.  Prominent advertising on Company Pages.  Another new change is that you will see a LOT more advertising on LinkedIn Company Pages, including every product and service page, right margin.  The best way to cope with this is to add YouTube video for each section.  The YouTube video will take priority location on the Page location.  Without it, the advertisement appears “above the fold.”  So, it looks like this:

But when you complete the Products section, and add video, then your video appears in that space, and the advertisement is bumped down “below the fold.”  So, it looks better, like this!

This is the perfect location for product-service videos, brief customer testimonial videos, and case-study style videos, all of which you should have on your YouTube Channel, anyway.  In fact, to take full advantage of LinkedIn Company Pages, your company is going to need a fully-operational YouTube Channel, so talk to us about making that happen for you, if you haven’t started yet.

Many companies do not take advantage of these opportunities, and they should.  It’s free to set up a LinkedIn Company Page, just as it is free to set up a company profile on most social media platforms.  To take full advantage of LinkedIn Company Pages

  1. Fully complete each available section with text and links.
  2. Engage a graphic designer to design LinkedIn-specific elements.  You will need logo images in two sizes, a cover image, three hyper-linked banner images, and thumbnail images for each product and service.
  3. Include (or ask us to produce) a YouTube video for each available section.  Let visitors see your brand first, not someone else’s advertisement.
  4. Encourage your employees to follow your LinkedIn Company Page by marketing it internally (ask us how).
  5. Add a LinkedIn Company Page “Follow” button to your company website.

With my writing skills and social media experience, and David’s graphic design and photography skills, and our combined video production capabilities, we can make your LinkedIn Company Page a stand-out online marketing channel — worthy of your company’s or nonprofit’s reputation — for an affordable, fixed fee.  David and I have 28 LinkedIn recommendations for our work.  Please contact Mary@FletcherPrince.com or call (571) 269-7559 to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you build and update your LinkedIn Company Page.

Marketing Ideas and Content Themes for your October Editorial Calendar

Tuesday, October 2  The informative conference Digital East takes place in Herndon, VA today and tomorrow.  There are a dozen registrations left for $375 each.

Wednesday, October 3  The first Presidential debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney airs tonight.  If you choose to post to Twitter, keep your tweets topical this evening.  All the debates this month will be aired live on YouTube.

Monday, October 8  Columbus Day is a federal holiday, kids will be out of school, and people will be online in numbers. This is a great time to reach out to your Facebook Page followers.

Today is the last day of the George Bellows exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.  See it before it leaves!

This is also Fire Prevention Week.  Use the Twitter hashtag #FPW.  This would be an excellent time to remind your followers to check the operation of smoke alarms and hold home and office fire drills.

Tuesday, October 9  Learn how to pitch the reporters at the Washington Business Journal at their Power Breakfast and presentation today at 8:30 a.m.  Register for $25.

Wednesday, October 10  Wish Fletcher Prince’s David Hyson a Happy Birthday today on his Facebook profile.

Thursday, October 11  The Vice Presidential debate airs tonight at 9 pm.

Tuesday, October 16 Wish Happy Birthday to social media sweetie Meghan McMahon, aka @Meggiepoo on Twitter.

The second Presidential debate airs tonight at 9 pm; also live on YouTube.  Use hashtag #

Today is also Boss’s Day.  I wouldn’t forget that one if I were you! 🙂  Send a card around the office to sign, and treat your boss to lunch.

Wednesday, October 17  Join your Fletcher Prince friends for networking and a lunch of authentic German fare at Cafe Mozart in Washington, DC.  Cost of lunch is on your own.  Register here.

Thursday, October 18  Every ad agency account executive has a story to tell, and not all of them are pretty.  Attend Ad2DC’s  MadMemoirs – Horror Stories from Behind Agency Walls  and vote for your favorite tonight at 6:30 pm at Bus Boys and Poets ($15).

Saturday, October 20  Step back into 1771 and check out the 18th century Market Fair today and tomorrow at Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, VA.  $6 adults, $4.50 for AAA members, $3 children.

Monday, October 22  Wish Happy Birthday to Ascend Communication’s principal Lorelei Harloe!

The third Presidential debate airs tonight at 9 pm (also on YouTube).

Tuesday, October 24  Learn how to leverage LinkedIn for your business and networking at this Reston Chamber of Commerce event, 8:30 a.m., $10.  Register here.

The Town of Vienna presents its 66th annual Halloween Parade today at 7 p.m.

The Washington Ballet presents Dracula at the Kennedy Center, tonight through November 4.

Thursday, October 25  The DC chapter of the American Marketing Association celebrates its 80th anniversary and recognizes the Top Marketer at a gala this evening.

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce holds its B2B and B2C trade show 2012 Connections from 4 pm to 7 pm today.  Admission, parking and food are free.

Friday, October 26 Wish Happy Birthday to U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Sunday, October 28  The 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon takes place today

Monday, October 29  The Hunter Moon rises tonight.

Wednesday, October 31  Happy Halloween!  Bling out your Twitter and Facebook profile photos with Halloween themed logos.  If you’re downtown today, check out the exterior Halloween decorations at the White House.

Today is also Dan Rather’s birthday.  Follow @DanRatherReport on Twitter.

The latest social media statistics

A national survey of 1,005 adults by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in August 2012 found that

  • 66% use Facebook
  • 20% use LinkedIn
  • 16% use Twitter
  • 12% use Pinterest
  • 12% use Instagram
  • 5% use Tumblr

Read the results here

10 ways to say thank you to your public relations interns

Inviting your summer interns back for the company holiday party is another nice way to say thank you to your interns.

We still have a bit of summer left, but it won’t be long before your public relations interns are packing up and heading back to college, or moving on to their first jobs.

Hopefully, your company has given them real-life experiences, coaching, and the hourly pay they are entitled to for bringing value to your firm.  If you handled the internship well, the interns will leave with a favorable impression of your company and will go on to be brand ambassadors.  But did your intern go the extra mile?  Are you especially glad you hired her or him?

If so, before the internship ends, now is the time to think about the ways you can say thank you to your public relations interns, while giving them a good start on their public relations careers.  Here are some suggestions for ways to thank and help your interns before their internship ends.

1. Schedule a meeting with the intern, about a week or two before their last day.  Give them notice of it now, so they can prepare.  You can explain that at this meeting you will discuss and assess their work, provide advice, review their work samples, and hear how their internship experience went for them.  I asked my interns to write a brief summary of their internship experience before this meeting for me.   This helps the intern organize work samples for her or his portfolio, and gives you information to tackle their recommendation letter.

2. Write a LinkedIn recommendation.  Your recommendation may be the first one they receive, so it is especially meaningful.  It should be brief and honest, but specific.  Think of three projects the intern worked on, and their contribution.  Mention a few personal qualities that make this intern desirable as an employee.

3. Write a letter of recommendation.  A letter of recommendation you provide on company letterhead is important for a few reasons.  First of all, not every employer is on LinkedIn (gasp!).  Also, it’s helpful to have a paper copy of a recommendation for the intern’s portfolio, and the letterhead and signature lend authenticity.  In addition, if the intern goes on to another internship, some applications require at least one letter of recommendation.

4. Offer to review their updated portfolio and resume.  At this point, the intern should have work samples, a fair idea of their contributions to the firm, and a letter of recommendation (before their last day).  They can now update their resume with their internship experience.  Review their updated resume and portfolio with them and explain how to make the most of these assets in a job interview.

5.  Schedule a farewell meeting with a top executive.  Before the intern leaves, speak to your top executive about having a brief meeting with you and the intern.  The executive should be informed about the contributions the intern made before the meeting.  You should also coach the intern on basic business protocol before the meeting.  This is an opportunity for the top executive to thank the intern and impart any quick words of advice, and the chance for the intern to also say thank you and collect a memory for a lifetime.  Don’t forget to bring a camera!

6. Connect through social media.  If you haven’t had this discussion, now may be a good time to explain the business etiquette of social media.  For example, interns and supervisors do not usually connect on Facebook.  However, you can safely encourage the intern to connect with you on LinkedIn, and you can offer to review their LinkedIn profile and make recommendations.  You can also encourage your intern to “Like” the company Facebook Page, subscribe to the company YouTube Channel, and follow the company blog and Twitter account.

7. Take some photos.  I mentioned taking a photo with the chief executive but make sure you also snap a few pictures (with your camera or the intern’s) of them sitting at their desk, posed with employees in the office, in front of the building, at their farewell lunch, working on a project, and even of work samples.  Email them the digital files.  These photos really come in handy for updating social media profiles and for use in job interviews, and they will become a treasured memento for the interns.

8. Ask the intern to write an article about their internship experience for the company blog.  The summary they wrote for you (in tip #1) and the photos (in tip #7) will make for a meaningful blog post that will make the whole company feel good, and will encourage quality interns to apply for your next internship offering.

9. Write a brief thank you note (handwritten) on your personal stationery or a card.  Yes, you will have already written the letter of recommendation on company letterhead.  But that is directed to a future employer.  You should also thank the intern personally.  This is another item that will become a memento for the intern.  If you give the intern this note a week in advance (say, at the end of the day on the Friday before their last week), it may also prompt him or her to write a thank you note to you, which is great business etiquette training.

10. Provide a parting gift.  What you give the intern as a parting present depends on your budget, their contribution, and how many interns you have.  If you have a small budget, you might gift them with some company imprinted items you have on hand, or a business card case.  But if the intern was really outstanding, and your company has the budget, one especially significant gift is to give them their first professional membership.  Professional associations usually discount their membership fees for young professionals.  So, if you would like to do this, you can discuss the options with your intern, have them complete the membership application, and then issue a check to the organization for their first year of membership.  Some suggestions: Washington Women in Public Relations ($40 for college students, $85 for regular membership) or the Public Relations Society of America ($155 for applicants with two or less years of experience).

What ways have you found to thank your public relations interns?

Tips for creating an attention-getting online profile

As you may know, online profiles appear in a number of social media platforms and online directories: Google+, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, Twitter, Flickr,and YouTube, for example.  Here are my tips for crafting a brand-building online profile.

1. Write for your customers.

Online profiles give you a limited amount of text space to describe yourself, or your company.  This is valuable real estate, so think about how it might appear in search engine results, i.e., use keywords.  When composing your company or personal description, think about what differentiates you from others, or your company from other companies.  One tip for profiles is to write from your customer’s perspective. Think, “If I were my customer, why would I want to read this, and what benefit would it offer me? What problem will knowing more about this company help solve for me?”

2. Tone down the superlatives

I read a lot of online profiles that make me wince.  It does not build credibility to call yourself a rock star or a diva, or what have you. Don’t use promotional language, unless you have something external to back up your claim.  Just be matter-of-fact — that’s believable.  For example, on my Twitter account, I do not identify Fletcher Prince as a top PR agency, but rather as a Washington Business Journal top PR agency.  See the difference?

3. Include details, like location. Details build trust.

The more specific and transparent you are on your online profile, the more trust and interest you will build for your expertise or for your company.

Your profile should also clearly indicate the location of your company (or self).  Social media is global.  So don’t make people guess if you are from the U.S. or the U.K. Make sure you include a reference to your city, if you want leads.   Here’s an example:

“Carousel30 is a full-service Digital Agency with national clients based in historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.”

Perfect. The Twitter profile description says what they do and where they are located, but it makes it clear that they work for clients nationwide.

4. Build in a call-to-action.

Why are you online?  What do you want people to do?  Put it out there!  And if you’re short on space, then at least include a website link.  Then your URL is your CTA.  The URL can be your website address, blog address, or Facebook Page.  I also try to include my phone number on my online profiles, when space allows.

5. Don’t include distractions

What you probably don’t need in your profile description: a disclaimer stating that tweets represent your own opinions.  Whose else would they be?  Are you truly afraid of getting sued?  As long as you add #client or #ad to tweets that represent a paid relationship, you don’t need to take up valuable real estate on your profile with what is really a negative statement.

6. Be personal…but not TOO personal

Many people add a little interesting tidbit in an attempt to make their profiles memorable.  If you choose to do this, then think carefully about what you include in your profile.  For example, one online profile says the person likes chocolate.  Well, very few people don’t like chocolate.  So think of something that really says something about you.

Another Twitter profile I saw today was a bit too revealing: she said was into cocaine and a particular sexual practice.  The reason why I saw her post is that she was inquiring with an acquaintance about a job in public relations with her firm.  Even worse, the acquaintance replied that the job was available.  Seriously.  I am not making that up.  So, watch what you put in those profiles.  And don’t tweet back to just anybody.

7. Maximize the visual impact.

As you may know, people scan content they view online.  Looks matter (when it comes to branding) and recognition builds trust.  When you think about how your profile appears, it’s important to take advantage of the branding and recognition opportunities.

Every profile should have a logo (if it is for your company) or a high quality photograph, if it is for yourself.  Most social media sites display a square profile image, but not every logo is designed to be square.  Guess what?  This means you need a special logo, just for social media.  There is no getting around this branding requirement — attempt to make a rectangular logo in the square space, and your company will just look unprofessional.

Add all the images you can. If you can upload more photos to the profile (as you may do on Google+ and Yelp, for example) take advantage of that potential by showing off images of your employees, company headquarters, products, or portfolio examples.  Most sites permit video now, so include at least one short online video.

So, those are my recommendations for today.  What other ways have you found to customize and brand your social media profiles?  Leave your suggestions in the comments.

A public relations to-do list for the dog days of summer

summer-wallpaper7-1024x768Rosemarie Esposito wrote a terrific post last week on ways to keep yourself busy and productive during the notoriously slow summer months when you work in public relations.  Some of her recommendations included taking clients out to lunch, blogging, and organizing contact lists.  Check out her blog post to see all her suggestions.

I like her ideas and I would like to add a few more to your downtime to-do list:

  • Draft an editorial calendar for the rest of the year — for your blog posts, social media updates, YouTube videos, Pinterest boards.  Sure, you can’t plan everything in advance, but an editorial calendar will give you a terrific head start, if you aren’t using one already.
  • Create a Twitter list of media contacts that you hope to cultivate.
  • Write a LinkedIn recommendation for a vendor, intern, or volunteer committee colleague.
  • Record a YouTube video.  There’s no better time to record video than in the summer — when you’re feeling relaxed, looking great, and probably not congested with a head cold!
  • Take candid photographs around the office and create Facebook Page albums.
  • Write case studies to share on the client work section of your website.
  • Create a presentation related to your area of expertise — with a PowerPoint presentation that you can upload to SlideShare.  It’s nice to have a presentation in the wings in case you are asked to fill in last minute for a cancelled speaker — I’ve been asked to do this.
  • Plan your winter holiday communications — it’s never too early, and now is the best time when you’re not harried and overworked.  Some people get their holiday shopping done before Labor Day and some people plan their holiday events, video greetings, and mailed cards early.  Fletcher Prince can design your holiday print card or e-card, and we are known for our holiday greeting videos.
  • Submit an award nomination. Washington Women in Public Relations is accepting nominations for Washington PR Woman of the Year.
  • Get a head start on your company’s annual report.  We’re halfway through the year.  If you start on it now, and save the draft, it will be that much easier to complete at the end of the year.

Now, that should keep you busy for a while!  Whether you’re working or taking some time off, I hope you have a fun and relaxing summer!

P.S. Here’s an explanation why we call these days the “dog days.”

 

Your Marketing Strategy for 2012: Invest in the Basics; Refine What You Have

You ever open your closet and think: oh, god, I hate ALL my clothes!

Yeah, me too.

Who among us couldn’t benefit from updating our look?  Or even a makeover?  You’d still be the same person inside, but the packaging.  Ah. Packaging is powerful.

Wait a minute, are we talking about clothes or marketing?  Well, maybe there are similarities.  Just like you need to have a fantastic “networking” outfit that makes you feel like you can do anything, you also need to have a website that reflects your success.

You need the basic pieces, but you also need accessories to bring life to those pieces and show your individuality.

Get the idea?  Same concepts apply to your business…or nonprofit.

These are the basics you need to have in your marketing closet.  Most clients I see who do not have all the basic elements they need in place.  That, or they could benefit from refining those vehicles.

We did a lot of “makeovers” in 2011 and expect to do even more in 2012, as clients resume their goals for positioning themselves competitively in the gradually improving economy.

Regardless of company size, most business owners and nonprofit managers should be considering an investment in most or all of these basic marketing elements…

  • A marketing audit and plan for your business ($1500).
  • A suite of professionally designed logos ($1500) in various sizes for your website, business card, letterhead, and for your business presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Yelp.
  • A public relations kit that includes executive bios, company fact sheet, and launch press release (starting at $500).
  • For proposals, mailings, and speaking engagements, you may also want to invest in a corporate brochure ($1500) and custom presentation folders ($350).
  • Professional headshots and corporate photography ($ call for estimate).  At the bare minimum, you will need professionally taken, recent photographs of the principal and top managers, as well as photographs of your company headquarters, signage, products, services in action, staff, and community participation.
  • A website that is searchable and easy to update ($850-$1200) that integrates social media features.
  • A branded YouTube Channel, and at least three videos ($2500 ) YouTube is the third most visited website on the Internet and there is no better way to tell your story than with video.
  • An email marketing plan and calendar of communications.  So important, and so easily neglected.  Email has been shown to be the most effective form of marketing there is.  If you have a B2C business (and even some B2B businesses),  it is not optional.
  • Some form of strategically scheduled direct mail outreach ($ call for estimates).

And here are some recommended accessories.  They’re not right for every single client, but for those who can pull it off, it can make those basics sing…

  • A blog ($850 for set-up and training)
  • Additional videos throughout the year ($750 to $1200 each)
  • Facebook Page ($300) – for some clients
  • Twitter Profile  ($300) – for most clients
  • Flickr Photo Sharing – for all clients

The service fees above are for fixed-fee projects are estimates only, based on 2011 published rates, and are subject to change in the new year.  Fees do not include affordable printing fees.

Social Media in the Workplace: New Statistics

Things were simpler, once. Photo credit: Galaxy FM

Results from the Proskauer International Labor & Employment Group Survey were released last month, and describe a global picture of how social networking is being employed  — and not — in the workplace.

The findings illuminate the risks and need for companies to intelligently address those risks.

While 76% of the companies used social networks, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, for business purposes, stunningly, more than 40% of the respondents have reported employee misuse of social networks, and nearly a third have had to impose disciplinary actions on employees.  Easy to understand, then, why 29% of companies are actively blocking employee usage of social networking in the workplace and 75% completely or somewhat restrict access to social networks at work for non-business use, and less than a third felt that there was any advantage at all to allowing employees access to social networks for non-business use while at work.

Daniel Ornstein, a London-based Partner in the International Labor & Employment Group, stated. “Although [social networking] has many benefits, hardly a week goes by without yet another new story of a viral tweet or posting that has the potential to damage the reputation of a business, underscoring the need for companies to be proactive in this area.”

Are businesses being proactive, though?  Apparently not.  45% of the responding businesses admitted they did not have a social media policy and only 27% monitor employee usage of social media sites.

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