Social Media in the Workplace: Does your work productivity suffer?

Social media in the workplace has become a huge part of our everyday lives. It’s one of those technologies that we can’t seem to get enough of.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media networks help us connect with the world around us. We use it as a source of entertainment, information, and a medium through which we share aspects of our lives with friends, families, and even colleagues.

Social media helps us achieve visibility both online and offline. It allows us to forge relationships without distance being a barrier. Even businesses are leveraging the power of social media to reach more customers and engage with their audience on a deeper and better level.

We use social media a lot in our personal and professional lives, so it’s not surprising that the distinction between the two often gets blurry.

Research shows that employees spend an average of 1.5 hours on social media at work every day. When you add up these hours for every employee for a week, a month, a year, the numbers start to look a little worrisome for employers.

The question then becomes whether the use of social media at work is a productivity killer. However, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. As with many things in life, social media in the workplace has its pros and cons.

In this article, we’re going to explore the impact of social media on workplace productivity to help you create a solution that works for your company and its employees.

What the data reveals

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 12% of workers use social media to ask work-related questions of people within and outside their organizations, while 17% use it to learn more about their colleagues and build personal relationships with coworkers.

But that’s not all. About 20% use social media at work to get information to help solve problems at work, 24% use it to build professional connections, 27% to connect with friends and family, and 34% of employees use it to take a mental break from their work.

According to the Harvard Business Review, 82% of employees see social media as a way to improve work relationships and 60% leverage the powers of social media to support decision making.

Similarly, a study by the University of Melbourne found that 70% of workers who used the internet for work engaged in leisure browsing but were 9% more productive on average than workers who didn’t participate in such activities.



According to Atlassian, the average employee is interrupted from their work 56 times a day and they spend two hours daily recovering from interruptions.

About 65% of employees admit to using the internet for non-work purposes throughout the workday. It has been estimated that disengaged employees cost the United States between $450 billion and $550 billion annually.

Positive effects of social media on workplace productivity

Social media can be a great tool that can be utilized for the benefit of your company and employees. Some of the things you stand to gain from allowing or encouraging social media use at work include:

1. Increased morale and employee engagement

Being able to check social media can make your staff happy and motivate them to work for a variety of reasons.

  • It will make them feel valued.
  • Connecting with the people they care about will improve their moods.
  • It shows that you trust them to get their work done.
  • It gives them a chance to relax and unwind in between long hours spent tackling work tasks.

Allowing social media use can boost morale and overall motivation. No matter how hardworking they are, people need to zone out from time to time so they can regain concentration.

Short social media breaks can serve as a reminder of how wonderful life is beyond work, leading to energy being replenished and a higher total net concentration, which ultimately translates to elevated productivity levels.

Keeping your staff happy can boost productivity by about 12% and lead to a more engaged workforce, which, in turn, results in a profit increase of over $2400 per employee. Allowing social media use seems like a small price to pay for that.



2. Improved internal communications

Social media can be used as a communication tool. When employees are able to connect through social media channels, they get to know each other better, contribute knowledge and expertise to improve functionality, and learn to communicate more effectively with one another.

Studies have shown that employees who engage in online interactions with coworkers through social media tend to come up with innovative ideas and be more motivated. They can share meaningful work experiences, insights and solutions, and develop a sense of community that can promote teamwork, efficiency, morale, and loyalty better than a hundred work retreats.

3. Personal and professional development

There’s a lot of information on social media that your employees can leverage to take their skills to the next level and achieve professional development.

From articles to case studies, debates and news stories, tutorials, and even course recommendations, there’s a huge knowledge base on social media waiting to be consumed, and dedicated employees can take advantage of them to build themselves up.

Social media can also be used by your staff to connect with other professionals, working in various industries. The external relationships they forge may lead to them generating new ideas, quality leads, partnerships, and other business opportunities for the company.

4. Employer branding

Social media content shared by your employers can reach 561% further and generate 800% more engagement than content shared by your company’s official channels. That said, make sure you have a solid content strategy to product effective content at scale.

If leveraged properly, social media can work wonders for your brand visibility and image. Encouraging your employees to share positive content—articles, success stories, videos or live stream of the work culture, and funny thoughts or happenings around the office—can impress potential and existing customers.

People are more likely to remember and patronize the business whose employees are always posting interesting things, engaging their audience on a personal level, and showing off the company culture on social media.

Instead of risking lower retention rates, social media can put the spotlight on your workers, making them feel appreciated, and turn your company into a recruitment magnet.

5. Enhanced innovation and performance

Social media fosters communication between parties that may not otherwise interact, thereby facilitating a merging of intellects that can spark creativity and ideas, which may positively impact the growth of the company.

Brands like Starbucks and Threadless have used social media time and time again to innovate their products and campaigns with the help of their employees. Social media can help your staff get real-time feedback on their ideas and projects, which may lead to improvements, saving time and other resources in the long run.

Cons of social media use in the workplace

So what’s the downside of allowing social media use at work? There are a few stumbling blocks to productivity that you might want to consider before making a decision to ban or encourage the use of social media in the workplace.



1. Distractions and time-wasting

Time passes very quickly on social media. An employee might decide to just scroll through their Twitter timeline for a minute, only to end up spending hours chatting with their mutuals and reveling in the gist of the day.

Most people can control the amount of time they waste on social media, especially during work hours, but some might find it difficult to fight off their addiction and focus on work. And if you’re in the latter, you’ll find that you’re stuck with busy schedules with not enough time to work or even sleep (something that’s very important to stay productive).

In a recent study, 70% of companies reported taking disciplinary actions against employees for their misuse of social media.

Excessive use of social media at work can lead to decreased attention span, productivity and efficiency, loss of revenue, and even potentially open your company up to liability.

2. Cybersecurity risks

People don’t always take necessary precautions and care when surfing social media, and this can pose a serious technical risk to the company when certain social media content is accessed using company internet and equipment. This is a bigger problem if you manage a remote team where employees access the internet from their private networks.

It’s not uncommon for social media accounts to get hacked. Employees may download a file or an app off social media, which unknown to them contains viruses and other malicious software that can wreak havoc on your company data and systems. This might result in important information getting compromised or lost, loss of huge streams of revenue, and in extreme cases, might result in the business shutting down permanently.

Jeremy Noronha, an experienced remote worker shares, “ When working from home I always use VPNs to protect myself and my clients from potential attacks. Additionally, I make sure I connect to a private WiFi hotspot for extra security.”

Similarly, I recommend to follow best practises both within your company, and with (remote) workers. This will ensure you mitigate online security threats when your employees are accessing social media.

3. Impact on mental health

What happens on social media can have a great effect on people’s moods and attitudes. The constant stream of bad news and vile opinions, peer pressure, cyberbullying, targeted harassment, and other hostilities can trigger depression, anxiety and mental stress in staff members, making them incapable of competently or swiftly handling their work tasks.



Social media is a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing stories about their lives, but unfortunately, what they share can also be used to judge, attack, or spread false opinions about them.

It’s possible for coworkers to use the information that an employee shares on social media to taunt, discriminate, or do some sort of harm to that employee’s personal and professional well-being.

4. Threat to brand reputation

Employees can easily get carried away on social media and end up posting something that paints your company in a bad light, causing a major blow to your reputation that might take thousands of dollars and several months to restore.

We’ve all witnessed some epic social media fails that have gone viral for all the wrong reasons. The last thing any company wants is to be on the hot side of that action because an employee posted something negative on social media.

There’s also the risk of an employee accidentally revealing confidential information which may bring about significant harm to the business.

5. Increased employee turnover

Recent studies have revealed that employees who use social media during work hours were more likely to engage with potential new employers and leave the company than their counterparts who didn’t.

Although these employees were more productive and engaged, they were also more inclined to seek external job opportunities.

By preventing social media use in the workplace or limiting its use to employee communication and collaboration alone, businesses might be able to retain their employees and keep productivity from suffering due to the exit of a staff member.

Keep it cool and emphasize responsibility

As you can see, social media at work can simultaneously contribute to unproductive and productive behaviors. It’s a double-edged sword that should be wielded with purpose and care.

Using social media in the workplace has been proven to increase morale, engagement, innovation, employer branding, communication with coworkers, all of which are beneficial to the overall workplace productivity.

However, it has also been shown to compromise employee retention, mental health, business security, and brand reputation. This means that the decision to outlaw or allow social media at work depends on your company and its employees.

Whatever you decide, it’s always a good idea to outline your social media policy, so everyone clearly understands what’s expected and not expected of them. Your policy should reflect the values, character, goals of your organization, and be tailored to optimize performance.


Social Media Goals: How to Set SMART Goals and Actually Achieve Them

Imagine sitting down at your computer and heading over to Instagram to create a new account for your business. With no plan in place, you start going to town showing off your iPhone photography skills like none other.

To your surprise, you gain precisely… zero new followers, comments, or likes despite posting three times a day and commenting on every post you come across.

You’re following all the rules of engagement, so what gives!?

Unlike your personal social media profiles, your business profile needs a foundational strategy that acts as a beacon for everything you do. The basis of this strategy is a robust set of social media goals to pave the way.

However, setting smart social media goals isn’t as easy as it seems. But don’t worry. By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about setting smart goals that align with your business objectives.

Goals Aren’t Actually THAT Important… Are They?

Harvard conducted a study in which they asked 3% of their MBA students to write down their goals. Those students earned up to 10x as much as the remaining 97% of students ten years after graduation.


Image via Finances Online

It’s no secret that people who set achievable goals are more likely to be successful.

You also know the devastating pain of failing to meet your goals. At times, it can feel like your world is crashing down around you. So, why is it that 92% of people never actually achieve the goals they set?

It’s because they’re setting the wrong goals.

So, How Do You Make Sure You’re Setting the Right Goals?

Failing to meet your goals has nothing to do with who you are. Instead, it has everything to do with the goals you set for yourself. The key to setting the right social KPIs is following a SMART quality check before dedicating your time and effort.

The easiest way to do this is by starting with a broad business goal; you can then run through the SMART goal-setting process. By the end, your goal will morph into something valuable you can use for positive growth.

On the psychological front, setting smart goals will not only help with work efficiency but also ensure peace of mind.

Instead of overworking, you’ll be achieving more without much effort. And this will lead to several benefits like better mental health, happiness at work and research shows even better sleep.

On a similar note, goal setting will result in more consistent workweeks which means you’ll be maintaining a healthy work-life balance, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule that’ll help you maintain a more productive mind.

Basically, happiness at work = better goals.


Image via The Balance Small Business

Let’s run through a quick example.

Pretend your goal is to get more eyes on a new product you’re launching. While that’s an excellent idea, it isn’t a SMART goal. But, you can turn it into one by following the process:

  1. Specific — You can narrow this down by deciding you want to increase the traffic this particular product landing page gets.
  2. Measurable — Now, you need to add a quantifiable metric with which to compare your progress. You want to triple the current traffic level to this landing page.
  3. Attainable — Next, you have to decide if this is a realistic goal. If it is, there’s no action required. If it isn’t, rethink the measurable metric you defined in the last step to something attainable.
  4. Relevant — Think about your mission, vision, and business objectives. Does this goal get you one step closer to achieving these high-level objectives? If so, you’re right to move on. If not, go back to step one.
  5. Time-based — What does your timeline look like for this goal? Setting a deadline gives you something to work towards and a defined schedule. You decide on two months.

Circling back, you started with something broad and turned it into an actionable, metric-based goal. In two months, you’re going to triple the traffic level on your product-specific landing page.

From there, you can put your business plan and strategy in motion to help you get there.

How does this apply to Social Media?

Many companies find it challenging to develop a strong social media strategy that aligns with their business goals. Going further, 67% of marketers have a hard time measuring and tracking their social media efforts.

Setting SMART social media goals can help solve both of these problems for you and your business. They can also help transform the customer experience into an enjoyable one, every step of the way.

When you start with a rock-solid set of social media metrics, you’ll have the power to develop a strategy that actually gets results. Take a look at the most common social media goals among marketers.


Image via Smart Insights

Now, imagine applying the SMART goal-setting process to identify actionable goals that work for you. From there, you can use these metrics to create a social media plan and strategy that you can then break down into specific tasks.

Setting Social Media Goals that Align with Your Business Objectives

There is an infinite number of social media metrics you can use to measure progress towards your goals. But, trying to track them all is a colossal waste of time. So, how do you decide which ones are important?

You can do this by:

  1. Understanding and defining your business goals
  2. Using these to set SMART social media goals
  3. Tying the right social media metrics to the goals you set in step 2

Now that you know the process let’s walk through some examples.

Goal 1: Increasing Brand Awareness

As you saw, increasing brand awareness is a top priority for brand managers. It’s no secret you want people to recognize your brand, talk about your brand, and feel an emotional connection to your brand.


Image via MBA Skool

Social media is a common avenue to make steps towards achieving this goal.

  1. Business goal: increase brand awareness
  2. SMART social media goals:
    1. Achieve 100+ social shares on Facebook per post within two months
    2. Post 3x a week on Instagram and Facebook starting this month
    3. Double Instagram followers within two months
    4. Get 50+ repins/pin on Pinterest within two months
  3. Social media metrics to track:
    1. Shares, mentions, repins, comments, and likes
    2. Number of posts per week
    3. New/lost followers

Goal 2: Generating More Leads/Sales

Increasing the number of leads and sales you gain means generating more revenue for your business. For most, a lead will provide you with a way to contact them, for example their email address or phone number. So, it’s no surprise a lot of companies (including yours) are interested in using social media to make it happen.


Image via Sprout Social

  1. Business goal: generate more sales
  2. SMART social media goals:
    1. Improve click-through-rate on Facebook CTAs by 15% within two months
    2. Increase traffic referred via social media to landing pages by 9% this year
    3. Improve conversion rate on Instagram product pages by 4% this quarter
  3. Social media metrics to track:
    1. Click-through-rate on Facebook CTAs
    2. Page-specific web traffic via social media
    3. Revenue generation/conversion rate from Instagram product pages

Goal 3: Improving Community Engagement

The internet is a place of short attention spans and instant gratification. Think of how many times you scroll by things without actually taking the time to engage with it.

With that said, social media engagement is a great way to gauge your audience’s perception of your brand and gain valuable insight into how you can help them. It may also help introduce your brand to new audiences you may not actively target.


Image via Statista

Community engagement may look different depending on your industry. But, the social media engagement metrics you should measure work the same way regardless of your vertical.

  1. Business goal: improve community engagement
  2. SMART social media goals:
    1. Increase social shares across all channels by 35% this year
    2. Achieve 25+ comments per Facebook post within three months
    3. Improve social media click-through-rates by 12% this quarter
  3. Social media metrics to track:
    1. Number of shares, likes, and comments
    2. Social media click-through-rates
    3. Web traffic referred via social media

Goal 4: Growing Your Audience

The number of people around the world using social media continues to increase every year. By 2021, over 3 billion people worldwide will use some sort of social media.


Image via Oberlo

As social media continues to expand, it’s no surprise that marketers turn to it for help when working to find new audiences.

  1. Business goal: growing your audience count
  2. SMART social media goals:
    1. Increase the number of post impressions by 25% this quarter
    2. Achieve 100+ social shares per blog article within six months
    3. Improve the number of brand mentions on Twitter by 5% this quarter
  3. Social media metrics to track:
    1. Post/social media ad impressions
    2. Social shares per blog post/social post
    3. Brand mentions, tags, and comments

Goal 5: Increasing Website Traffic

The click-through-rate for social media is significantly lower than other sources of web traffic. Social media platforms don’t have much to gain by directing traffic away from their site.

But, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Many marketers still use social media to drive traffic to their websites.


Image via eCommerce Fuel

Additionally, a top-notch social media strategy plays a role in boosting your SEO efforts and ROI. And as you can see, organic search traffic is the highest source (47.8%) of traffic across the web.

  1. Business goal: Increasing web traffic
  2. SMART social media goals:
    1. Improve social ad click-through-rates by 3% this quarter
    2. Increase average social media click-through-rate by 5% this year
    3. Increase social media traffic share to 13% this year
  3. Social media metrics to track:
    1. Social ad click-through-rates
    2. Organic social click-through-rates
    3. Average traffic share by traffic source

Ready to Conquer Your Business and Social Media Goals?

Developing a strong social media strategy and presence depends on your ability to set the right social media goals. And, the right social media goals help lead the way for positive growth in all areas of your business.

To make this process easier, the team has developed a comprehensive social media tool to make strategizing, automating, scheduling, and conquering your goals more accessible than ever.

Click here to get started for free today!