A bit of procrastinating doesn’t do anybody any harm; it’s what Fridays are all about. There is a limit to how much procrastinating you can get away with, of course, but if you find yourself struggling for ideas or working at a snail’s pace, take your head out of work mode for a few minutes and see where that leaves your brain.

As Taylor Swift would testify, there is such a thing as a welcome distraction… For your employees, social media can act as that welcome distraction; it cleanses the palate, allowing them to think properly when they return to what they’re working on.

Some employers ban their employees from using social media, seeing it not as a welcome distraction but a constant distraction. In some work environments, it’s probably a fair argument to put a blanket ban on social media.

However, give employees a bit of credit. They know that they can’t afford to spend too long browsing. Give social media a bit of credit, too; it’s not all tittle-tattle.

Making the argument for letting employees have unfettered access to social media is marketing guru Jayson DeMers. In a piece for Entrepreneur website, he lists how doing so can boost business:

1. Meaningful distractions

As humans, we’re not built to be constantly engaged in meaningful thought. Sometimes we need something to direct our attention away from meaningful matters, affording our brains a bit of space to ‘breathe’. Call them meaningful distractions, if you will.

DeMers notes how “some of our best problem-solving happens in the unconscious mind once we’ve stepped away from the problem”.

Social media serves to take your thoughts away from the task in hand for a few moments, so that you come back to it feeling fresh and determined to get the better of it. A few minutes ‘wasted’, then, could mean an hour saved.

2. News and information

If you follow the right sort of people on social media, your timeline will not be full of inane thoughts but useful news and information, some of which may well apply to your line of work.

Keeping up with news stories relevant to your industry is crucial for any business, as is being attuned to what matters to your customers right now. If you are the first to identify customers’ pain points, you can be the first to address them.

Social media is your avenue into what is affecting your industry and your customers. You might just happen upon something that changes the way you do business or boosts your operational efficiency.

3. Networking and communication

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That saying will probably never expire. It’s truer than ever now, although it does help to know what you’re talking about when you reach out to potential clients or customers on social media, of course…

A study from a few years ago found that almost two thirds of people believe that social connections are still more important than “what you know” in determining how people advance in life.

We’re not promoting nepotism here, but suggesting that getting to know the right people on social media can be worth more than knowing what you should be doing to get more business. It’s a funny old game, but play it we must.

4. Personal branding

Building a personal brand has huge potential in a B2B sales context. By raising the visibility and credibility of your employees, you will drive more traffic to your website and build productive relationships.

At the end of the day, people buy from people. So a strong personal brand builds recognition and trust, opening up professional opportunities.

That’s why it’s well within a brand’s interest to let employees on to social media to build their personal brands. Ideally, instead of just posting about subjects which are personal to them, they’ll also post content that relates to your industry; stuff that would be of interest to prospects.

By explaining the individual benefits of building a personal brand, as well as the business benefits, they’ll soon come round to the idea of posting their own industry-relevant content. As they do so, they’ll be greatly increasing your company’s overall reputation.

See, letting employees roam free on social media while at work isn’t such a bad idea.

It’s all about getting the balance right – ensuring that social media serves a purpose over and above being just an outlet from work. Get that right and you’ll soon be encouraging your employees to take a social media break.