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Work culture has been at the forefront of everybody's mind lately. With Yahoo's recent decision to ban telecommuting to improve employee engagement making headlines, it's hard not to stop and evaluate the significance of work culture on our lives today.

It plays a big role in helping companies to attract and retain great talent and is a key element of success. This is especially true in industries with a dearth of qualified talent, where companies aggressively compete to win over new employees. The stakes are at an all-time high and can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Creating and maintaining work culture, though, is no longer just about town halls, company e-mails and internal surveys. The role of social media in communicating and nurturing a company's culture is becoming even more critical. It can be more effective than many businesses realize. Here are a few tips on how to do it right:

Clearly define your company's values

It's important to define the type of culture you want to cultivate, and the values that you align with it. Your company's culture says a lot about the type of work you'll produce and is often something that potential clients and hires will evaluate. Your office environment and how you communicate through social media says a lot about who you are as a company.

Once you've defined what you want, it's equally important to communicate it to your team and the industry as a whole. Be transparent and let your business culture drive a core part of your social media content. Sharing team stories and internal successes or campaigns through social media attracts talent and clients who appreciate and align with your company's values.

Figure out which channels make the most sense

Companies need to decide which social platforms will be used for pure external messaging and promotion, and which will be used for employee engagement and promotion of the great work of your team.

Facebook and Instagram are great tools for building and promoting your company's culture. Both platforms offer a space to visually demonstrate values and work environments, and celebrate wins both internally and with external followers.

Facebook can help build relationships internally by engaging employees through sharing and posting content. But it also offers a great opportunity to promote your culture to a wider audience. You can share company updates and internal content with the public, including prospective hires and clients.

Twitter and Linkedin, on the other hand, are great tools for engaging with the community and demonstrating thought leadership with your customers and the industry as a whole. You can gain access to your audience quickly and share content that is relevant to your business and aligns with your company's values.

Engage your employees

Erin Lieberman Moran, senior vice-president at the Great Place to Work Institute, revealed last year that the best companies embrace social media to build relationships internally. Businesses that encourage employee-driven content on social media help to build a more open and trustworthy environment than those where the leadership controls the conversation and human resources personnel constantly monitor blogging content.

Enterprise social networks such as Chatter, SharePoint and Yammer can increase productivity and strengthen employee relations. These are internal platforms designed to enhance collaboration and improve efficiency. A recent study by APCO Worldwide and Gagen MacDonald found 61 per cent of employees at companies with internal social networks felt collaboration is easier and 39 per cent were more likely to recommend their company's products and services.

Encouraging employees to represent your brand online and contribute to content creation helps to build trust and pride while creating a more authentic voice for your company. Coca-Cola Co. offers a great example of this by featuring posts from employees in the blog section of its public website. Not only does Coke encourage its employees to create content, it also promotes that content through one of its Twitter accounts.

There are some great examples of companies that have used Pinterest to engage employees as well. created a board encouraging employees to share their favourite products from the company. The New York Public Library also created a board featuring reading recommendations from its librarians. These demonstrate creative ways to use social media in a valuable way for your business and your employees.

Social networks are powerful channels, and not only for reaching your customer. Businesses that embrace social media as part of their internal communications plans will see huge benefit from this effective way to build trust and communicate within your team. At this point, avoiding it means falling behind.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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