Most business leaders agree they need to a) produce better social media results and b) connect with buyers on a more personalized level. Following through on these two challenges and actually producing results (ie: revenue) is elusive without specific markers. Fortunately, encouraging employee participation in social media can alleviate both of these challenges.
Before you begin, it’s important to note that company culture will be in the social media spotlight. Having a comprised set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize the organization is crucial for good business, even without the social media klieg light.
A positive company culture is prerequisite when considering employee participation in social media.
Is there a value in employee participation in social media?
The numbers tell a clear story that employee participation in social media is worth examination:
- 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company. (Weber Shandwick)
- When a lead is generated through social selling or employee advocacy, that lead is 7x more likely to close compared to other lead generation tactics. (Gartner)
- Company messages reach 561% further when shared by employees vs the same messages shared via official company social media channels (MSLGroup)
Customers perceive employees as “people like me.” Employees are trusted more than any other representative or manager in your company.
Happy employees who share their expertise by way of social media send a very clear message to prospects:
“This company is trustworthy and I can feel safe and comfortable doing business with them.”
When you showcase employees as thought leaders in your industry, the company receives more recognition online. Employees reap the benefit of their voices being broadcasted, paving the way for more referrals, leads and sales. The company looks smarter because its employees look smarter.
It’s crucial to avoid the hazards that can happen when you open your company up to employee participation in social media. One false move, one case of poor judgment, or one public altercation with a customer can amount to serious consequences.
It’s important to know the Do’s and Don’ts of employee participation in social media so you can avoid the risks and retain the value.
Looking for expert advice on employees and social media? Click the button to learn more about our advisory services to get you on track!
Yes, I need help!
Do’s of Employee Participation in Social Media
DO: Encourage illustration of amazing, real-life customer experiences.
If you aren’t differentiating your business from your competitors then you’ll never be heard above the noise. The best way to create a remarkable presence is to capture stories, images and video that illustrate why you are better.
Every customer-facing employee has stories of how they delivered a great experience. Encourage them to collect their experiences and post about it on social media.
When it comes to COVID-19 safety measure, illustrate how you keep your customers and employees safe and heathy. Assist consumers who WANT to use digital tools in the car purchase journey.
DO: Establish what’s in it for me (WIIFM)
Any way you slice it, even if they tell you otherwise, there has to be something valuable in an employee’s actions for them to adapt to it long term.
Have each employee Google themselves. If they come up like a ghost (nothing there), it’s time for them to get out of the shadows.
If negative things materialize, it’s a training opportunity and being adept at social media may help them rectify a situation.
Employees who have positive social media interactions and online reviews communicate a strong “personal brand”, thereby building rapport and trust with the online community.
DO: Encourage growth of employees’ “professional brand.”
Many managers I know believe that if an employee works hard to build their professional brand and promotes it online, they will eventually leave and take customers with them. If you’re in this camp, I encourage you to approach this differently.
The more effective and lucrative way of handling employees’ professional brands is to incorporate them within your company’s marketing and messaging. A strong employee professional brand represents trust to those that know them – they are KNOWN.
As an advocate for your company, these “known” employees have much greater influence over customers and prospects.
DO: Weave employee participation in social media into their job description and pay plan.
You require employees to show up on time, right? You require them to perform their job duties, right? Why wouldn’t you gently fold in employee participation in social media as part of their duties?
I’m not advocating just letting them loose on social media. I am talking about a strategic plan and process that will allow the company to earn the benefits of their team members promoting the company’s value.
Pro Tip: For the best outcome, consider a training curriculum, as well as implementation of an employee social media policy.
DO: Recognize and reward 4-5 star reviews.
I have a dealership group client who wanted to increase their Google reviews. They started with 23 reviews for a total of 4.8 stars. Then, they began a program where each salesperson would get $25 for every 4 or 5 star review that mentioned the salesperson’s name (and the sale was verified).
The result? In 90 days, they amassed 133 Google reviews and were amazingly able to retain their 4.8 star rating. Today they have over 600 reviews (and still retain their 4.8 star rating). Not every review cost them $25 and the review building program became entrenched within their sales process.
DO: Empower salespeople to use “social selling” techniques.
Social Selling is the act of developing referrals, leads and sales using social media.
COVID-19 has caused dealerships to fast-forward their operations to accommodate for digital retailing. Communicating with customers and conducting business online is not going away anytime soon, which means that salespeople need to navigate the online world as well as they do over the phone or in-person.
Social media is the great connector and it gives salespeople the opportunity to engage with prospects, deliver information and eventually set appointments.
As the owner or GM (or even HR manager), you’ll need support for this “next-level” form of selling. If you need advice, please contact me here and I’ll provide some options for you.
DO: Track, analyze, show evidence and reinforce value.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Employees need to see the fruits of their labor (and so do you!).
- Check in with results during sales meetings.
- Review metrics. Ask for suggestions on how to improve.
- Recognize how many leads came in via social channels.
- What was the result of the sales follow-through? (ie: did they sell a car?)
Don’ts of Employee Participation in Social Media
Don’t expect everyone to jump onboard: 80/20 rule.
20% of your staff will participate in social media and create 80% of the results you’re looking for.
The middle 60% will sort of participate and it’s your job to keep them trained and motivated.
The bottom 20% will most likely never participate and that’s okay. There’s always hope they’ll come around.
Don’t even start without a social media policy.
As it goes with any employee initiative, specific guidelines must be set so each employee knows what’s expected of them and what to do if something goes wrong.
A social media policy alleviates fear on both sides of the table. Employees know what they need to do (or not do) in order to perform their job. The company is able to satisfy compliance and instill some control.
If you’re the type of business leader who believes employees should not be allowed on social media, a social media policy just might help you get more comfortable with the fact that today’s hyper-connected buyers prefer online communication.
You don’t restrict the phone or email so why restrict social media, especially if you have a policy in place?
Don’t overestimate employee skills. They will need training!
Putting a social media policy in place is a great start but it won’t get you to the promised land. Valuable content produced by employees and specific techniques to engage customers on social media do not happen on their own. Employees will need training on how to:
- Always look your best on social media
- Expertly create lead opportunities
- Build a recognizable personal brand that opens up professional opportunities
- Determine what and where to post on social media
- Understand which types of media they feel more comfortable with (video, photos, etc)
Don’t allow overwhelm to creep in.
Start slow and keep your expectations in check. A few employees may grasp the value right away, then take the ball and run with it. The quickest way to get overwhelmed or disappointed is to think it’s all going to be easy.
Set easy-to-reach goals for yourself and your team. Track the wins and losses and learn from everything you do.
Employee participation in social media is the key to:
- A happy, motivated workforce
- Increasing revenue
- Creating a more customer-friendly environment.
Take these steps to build your own internal process and your competitors won’t know what hit ’em.