Employees using social media on the clock is a very controversial topic. When used improperly, it can become a distraction that eats into production levels, or contribute towards a negative reputation for your company. However, there are many reasons to encourage your employees’ online activity, both on and off the clock.

Social media is both a recreational activity and an effective tool for online marketing. Keeping up with friends and family is the most common reason given for using Facebook and other networks. Accessing this channel of casual communication is free and easy for you and all your employees, and not to be cliché, but everybody’s doing it! Not everybody is open to direct advertisements anymore. Direct mailings can be tossed in the trash, television viewers can fast-forward through commercial breaks, and emails can be tagged as spam and filtered out of the inbox. However, genuine posts from your employees about their experiences with the company, products or services can garner a sincere following.

Your employees can easily and significantly increase your company’s online presence just by sharing updates from your company to their personal profiles, adding their own thoughts and asking for feedback from their networks. These updates can include statuses, photos, videos, links to blog articles, or anything that is going to spark engagement. In general, it’s wise to stay politically correct, but if the controversy is relevant to your industry, you could theoretically create quite an involved discussion with your audience.

If your employees aren’t speaking highly of your company, then who will? The best referrals come from the people who know and trust you. Educating them about your services will equip them to identify more lead prospects for your company. Your employees should be motivated to grow your business to improve their own livelihoods, and social media is a very easy way for them to do so.

In addition, many social networks are publicly indexed, like Twitter or Pinterest, which means they’re the perfect tools to boost your SEO. The more links to your website posted from external sources, the higher your site’s ranking will be with search engines like Google or Bing.