By Jennifer RobisonLAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Las Vegas attorney Brooke Borg has joined the social-media wave.

Borg, owner of Borg Law Group, just kicked off Twitter and Facebook campaigns to link her clients to articles and statutes governing estate planning and real estate law.

“It’s important for us as a firm to stay in contact with our clients, give them up-to-date material and market ourselves,” Borg said. “Our clients are constantly on the go, and instead of waiting for a monthly or weekly newsletter, they can get information from us on their phone, wherever they are. I think that’s a huge benefit to us.”

Borg has plenty of company online, according to a new survey from Robert Half Technology, an information-technology staffing firm.

The survey found that 51 percent of businesses nationwide let employees use social-media websites such as Facebook and Twitter on the job, as long as it’s for business purposes. That’s up from 19 percent in 2009.

Businesses are embracing social media because the online networks put them in front of new customers, help them build a brand image and connect them with professional associates and employees, said Craig Kurtzman, branch manager of Robert Half International’s Las Vegas office.

“It’s an unbelievably valuable tool for business, hiring and sales if it’s used the right way,” Kurtzman said.

Local companies use social media for a wide range of purposes.

Nevada State Bank takes to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to promote local philanthropies and publicize webinars and articles for small-business owners and investors.

And employees at Lucchesi, Galati Architects use the design studio’s Facebook page to post project updates, trade barbs about the company’s college basketball tournament pool and conduct caption-writing contests.

But wading into social media brings benefits and perils. For each successful promotional tweet or Facebook status update, there’s a potential negative comment from an unhappy customer. And once a business permits employees access to online social networking, it risks encouraging personal socializing on the sly during work hours.

Local companies are maneuvering around those obstacles, though, and they say social media’s benefits outweigh the negatives.

RMI Management occasionally grapples with social media’s downside: Complaints about the property management company’s homeowners association clients sometimes land on its Facebook page.

But the comments let RMI address homeowner concerns immediately and to burnish its customer-service credentials, said Heather Herrod, vice president of marketing. RMI responds 24-7 to frustrated homeowners, letting them know that company officials are on the case. Not only do homeowners receive quick help, but other visitors to RMI’s Facebook page can see it, Herrod said.

Executives at Nevada State Bank expected to open themselves up to negative customer comments when they launched a social-media initiative in August, said Suken Shah, assistant vice president and online marketing manager.

“We want to respond to complaints, and we want to have transparency with our customers,” Shah said. “We’re listening to them, hearing their feedback and taking it to heart. It can be a positive thing. Hopefully, we can turn a negative experience into a positive one.”

Nor do local executives seem too concerned about employees jumping from the company’s social media network to a personal page.

Employees at Lucchesi, Galati routinely visit their personal networking pages during business hours, often posting company news such as upcoming client interviews, said President Craig Galati.

“I don’t worry about what people do at the office,” Galati said. “We’ve been very good at hiring, and we have a great culture. If they spend 15 minutes on Facebook, but they make it up spending 15 minutes doing something else more effectively, I don’t really care. People get their work done.”

Herrod even said she considers employees’ personal social-networking a potential boost for the company. During its St. Patrick’s Day festivities, some workers hopped onto their personal Facebook pages to post photos of coworkers’ over-the-top outfits and costumes.

“How could I criticize that? They’re promoting RMI to their personal base,” Herrod said.

To keep a lid on potential problems, companies suggest a few networking strategies.

Borg meets weekly with her assistant, Jacqueline Fayeghi, to discuss a tweeting theme. She sticks with one topic per week to focus her approach.

It’s also important to commit a few key workers to handling social media, and to make the task part of their formal job description. Funneling a corporate message through select employees ensures that all posts are “on point,” Galati said.

Robert Half advises its clients to establish clear, written policies about what types of social networking are allowed. The company also recommends creating secure passwords and limiting networking access to select employees.

Kurtzman said that companies should also include disclaimers on the pages that warn employees to conduct only company business on the firms’ sites.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.

 

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