When social media was first developed, it was intended to foster connections between people. By searching through online profiles, users could reconnect with long-lost high school friends or reach out to new acquaintances. The dynamics of social networks have exploded since they hit the scene and they are no longer limited to personal communications. Businesses can now develop presences on the most popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn that enable them to interact with customers and foster stronger relationships with them.
Social media facilitates seamless workplace communication
While an IWMS has many benefits, social media might also have untapped potential as a way for facilities managers to make communication more efficient, according to Today's Facility Manager. Many companies are already bringing their buildings into the 21st century with telecommuting policies, hoteling and an integrated workplace management system that provides facilities managers with real-time access to all aspects of their current processes. However, facilities managers may still have to broadcast announcements about updates the old fashioned way - by printing out paper documents and distributing them through their facilities, communicating with leaders or sending occupants an email.
Some facilities managers have developed pages and opened accounts on social networks to streamline this process, the source adds. With a presence on Facebook or Twitter, facilities managers can instantly relay important information. For instance, they can post a message on Facebook announcing the completion of big maintenance projects or changes in hoteling policies, while tweets can communicate alerts about office closures due to inclement weather or other emergency situations. This could be more effective than sending company-wide emails that may not be received in time, and creating a page that can be accessed on smartphones and other wireless devices can increase visibility in case of an emergency evacuation.
"These kinds of technologies are going to be used by those who reside, visit and work in facilities, so the (facility) operators will have to figure out these technologies," Adam Crowe, director of emergency preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University, told Facilities Net.
Every technology has its purpose
Just as facilities managers might use IWMS features like space utilization software to monitor occupancy volume and asset tracking software to determine the exact location of equipment, they can use various technologies depending on the purpose of their message, the source points out. That is, Facebook might be a better medium to provide educational information, while Twitter is often best for updates that are time-sensitive. Facilities managers shouldn't limit their social networking strategies to just these, though. In addition, they might consider creating accounts on Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram and post videos of proper safety practices or demonstrate the best way to use new hoteling software.
Play by the rules for social success
Social media can be an advantageous tool, but companies must be sure they are adhering to proper practices to fully benefit from these sites, Today's Facility Manager adds. For starters, companies can't set up profiles on Facebook - they must create pages instead. This prevents corporations from sending friend requests to Facebook users and requires them to gain followers through page "likes." The media outlet suggests companies encourage their employees to become followers by offering incentives, such as coupons or discounts for local businesses.
Moreover, facilities managers will need to be sure there are policies restricting the disclosure of sensitive information on these pages because they are part of a public domain, the source reports. Rather, they can encourage occupants to field questions about confidential topics or report issues on the company's internal program. If businesses are using an IWMS, facilities managers will be able to see maintenance requests, move changes and other information instantly.