By Daniel Hunter

The explosion of social media use in the personal lives of many people has led over half of employers to use social media tools to communicate and build communities with their employees, according to a new survey by global professional services company Towers Watson.

The research also found that among those employers that have embraced social media technology, there is little consensus as to which tools are most effective.

The 2013 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Survey found that 56% of the employers surveyed currently use various social media tools as part of their internal communication initiatives to build communities – creating a sense that employees and leaders are in it together, and sharing both the challenges and rewards of work.

However, when asked how they would rate the effectiveness of social media tools, only 30% to 40% of respondents rated most of the tools as highly effective. And only four in 10 (40%) rated the use of social media technology as cost effective.

“We believe that social media can be a great tool for communicating with employees in the workplace,” said Nicola Cull, director, communication and change management consulting at Towers Watson.

“By its nature, social media is designed to build communities and could help engage employees on key topics such as performance, collaboration, culture and values. As the need for global collaboration increases, we expect more companies will join those already leveraging social media to creatively communicate those messages.”

The Towers Watson survey also found that while four in 10 employers (41%) claim to be effective at building a shared experience with their employees, only half of those employers (23%) achieve the same level of community building when it comes to remote workers.

“As today’s workforce evolves, we know from our research that the growing number of remote workers are looking for clear communication, to be treated with integrity, and want coaching and support from afar. For employers to effectively engage and retain remote workers, they will need to connect them with their leaders, managers and colleagues. We think social media tools can be a real help in making this connection,” said Cull.

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