When the words 'social media' and 'work' are used in the same sentence, it is usually in relation to one of two activities – self-promotion and time wasting. Either you're the one watching the cat video, or you're the one who filmed it (in the hope it will make you and your feline a viral sensation).
But, can social media also make you a better manager? I believe that it can if you're calm, calculated and compassionate when posting, pinning, liking and lurking.
Do you want to boost team morale, exert your authority or just spruce up the office? Then follow my top tips:
Show your trust
I remember at the dawn of Twitter, many employers banned their employees from mentioning who they worked for in their social media bios. Or, if they did say they worked at [insert company name] they had to put a disclaimer saying, "views are my own". I take the opposite tack with my team members.
Not only am I happy for them to proudly say they work for The Collective, but I encourage them to have strong opinions, because I trust their ethics and morals. Imagine sending a staff member to a party in the real world, but banning them from telling anyone where they worked.
Track their overtime
I've written before about the downsides of over-dedication in staff members. Although I applaud passion and adore anyone who goes the extra mile, I am also extremely aware of the dangers of burnout. Is a star employee uploading Facebook posts at 9pm on a Wednesday ("Location: the office")?
Are they posting Instagram snaps from their desk when everyone else is tucked up in bed? If you start to notice patterns that a staff member is neglecting rest and restoration, it could be time to sit them down and check they're not burning the candle at both ends.
Find a virtual mentor
Social media isn't just a way of boosting staff morale, but also your own. On Twitter I follow an inspiring army of business leaders and managers, including Sheryl Sandberg, Sir Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. They share wise words and insightful articles and what it's really like to run a company.
I also use social media to peek behind the scenes at other people's offices. No, I'm not just nosy! Pinterest boards like The Muse and Instagram accounts like Todd Selby (@theselby) give me ideas for how to design a creative and productive office space for my own team.
Give out gold stars
Do you name an 'employee of the month'? No, me neither. My employees are no longer 15-year-olds working in a burger joint. But I do think it's important to give credit where credit's due, publicly, and social media offers a subtle way to do this. I recently posted a picture on Instagram which just read, "Thankyou".
I gave a shout-out to my extraordinary team who make my big vision a reality. I also tagged all of them in the picture. It not only (hopefully) gave them a happy glow, but also reminded me how much I appreciate them all.
Send a postcard home
As a manager, you might travel – a lot. I am personally on a plane at least once a week, travelling to an event, speaking gig or far-flung meeting. As I head to another airport, I never want my team to think I'm just jetting off on a frivolous vacation. That's why I use social media like a postcard from my working holiday, to prove it's not all play.
Although I will sometimes post a photo taken by a hotel pool, I always try to make the point that I just had a quick dip before a conference or to unwind after a long day of negotiations. When you're remote-managing a team, don't let social media undermine how much work you're really doing.
The founder and editor-in-chief of The Collective, a monthly business and lifestyle magazine, Lisa Messenger has become a leading authority on the business world, specialising in entrepreneurship and disruption. She has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books and three times been a finalist in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year awards.