Have you recently come ’round to the idea that social media needs to be an integral part of your business strategy? Social is great for creating consistent, genuine interest in brands and local businesses. It can also drive leads for your business. But more and more, it’s becoming clear that a key step involves operational development and processes to engage employees in social media.
It takes a village to brainstorm, research, create, design and publish website and social media content. In the real world of company operations, this is rarely achieved, especially when there’s been no training or project management tools available. Each employee knows their defined responsibilities and introducing another duty generally falls on deaf ears.
Change the frequency to engage employees in social media.
So the question is, how do you approach this? What foundational moves can you make to ensure you have the best chance for success?
There’s a saying I regularly use this when I’m advocating for America’s equines:”None of us is stronger than all of us.” It motivates people to take action and call their legislators to urge them to co-sponsor the bill that will save thousands of horses’ lives every year (it’s called the Safeguard American Food Exports Act – SAFE Act).
This credo is also very useful when describing the process of content creation and publication. Employee engagement strengthens your brand. A team can produce more working in tandem than each individual player can on their own.
Leverage the power you have in your brand advocates!
Employees are perceived as “People Like Me” by your customers. Each employee has their own unique expertise they often bring great ideas to the content creation table. This is golden when it comes to social media. The content is richer, more well-rounded and generally met with much more engagement.
Why? Because employees know your customers. They’re on the front lines with them every single day and they speak their language.
6 Smart Moves to Engage Employees in Social Media
In order to unlock the potential you have right at your fingertips, there are very specific, organizational components that need to be embedded.
1. Provide Education & Training
Social media, SEO, content marketing and online reputation management are the cornerstones to new media marketing. Just because someone has a Facebook personal profile, is a star on Instagram or dabbles in the social space, that doesn’t make them a good marketer.
There’s such an opportunity, especially for salespeople, to attract and engage customers online but so few companies choose to take advantage of it simply because they’re afraid of what their employees would do or say.
If you’re going to win this game, you need to train employees on the ideal social media strategies. Educating them will open their eyes to new possibilities and increase their willingness to participate in social media and content marketing.
Very often, companies promote or hire based on their limited knowledge of how modern marketing works. The fact is, many companies fail to meet their goals because no one is really sure what success looks like.
Make room in your marketing budget for social media and/or social sales training. It’s cost effective and much less frustrating than wading through the murky river waiting for the fish to bite.
2. Provide Access to Social Media
Believe it or not, I just met someone the other day who told me their company blocks the Internet at work. The reason was that they didn’t want everyone playing Fantasy Football during downtimes. If this approach seems reasonable to you, please stop reading here. I will only waste your time going forward.
Are you still with me? Good.
Let’s be honest here: your employees are already on social media at work. If you block these sites, you’re only cutting off a very lucrative source of connection to your customer. Blocking social media sites is the same as shutting off your phones or barring email communication.
Employees have smartphones and laptops at work so embrace that fact and leverage it. Listen to them. Let them bring you their ideas on how to engage social customers.
3. Establish a Social Media Policy
Social media is a valuable communication channel, but it doesn’t change the basic rules of honesty, courtesy and respect that your company promotes and each employee represents in their day-to-day work lives.
While we recognize the importance of engaging in online conversations, we also recognize the need to provide a clear and purposeful Social Media Policy for all your staff to follow. It helps protect both the staff and the business.
Basic components of a Social Media Policy:
- Outline descriptions of the social networks and demonstrate how they benefit the company.
- Provide acceptable employee uses of social media and guidelines for social media use.
- Include protocol for when there’s a crisis and how to manage it.
4. Give Employees a Reason to Engage
Many social media marketing or advertising campaigns are more successful with grassroots employee buy-in.
Establish WIIFM (what’s in it for me) with your staff. Show them HOW they benefit from engaging and participating in social media.
Some employees will be active on Facebook, others on Twitter or LinkedIn, and some will hardly know what social media is. Adjust your expectations for specific employees and know that every single person has a contribution to make.
- Do you have an technician who loves interacting with the customers? Encourage them to do some simple “How To” videos.
- Do you have a customer service advisor who is loved by her customers? Invite her to engage with customers on your Facebook page. Believe me, ideas start to flow and soon she’ll be filming video testimonials (true story).
- Do you have a Salesperson or Cashier/Greeter who likes to write or do video blogs? Discuss content ideas and invite them to submit content.
- Want to build your online reviews? Offer a $25 spiff for every 4 or 5-star verified review the salesperson is mentioned in.
Motivate, recognize, and reward. You’re building a team of “brand advocates” who will up your social media game.
5. Weave Social Media and Content Participation into Their Job Description and Pay Plan
Content creation and participation should (for the most part) be mandatory. Before you cry foul, consider this: 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 social media and content participation as part of their duties…and compensate them for it? Done right, it’s worth every penny.
6. Make Content Submission Easy
With any employee initiative that involves change and growth, you need a super-simple process to avoid issues that arise. These tools will help bridge the gap between content creation and submission:
- Dropbox is always a good option for small business. Share a folder with employees and everyone can upload their content.
- Shared Google Docs are also a good free option, depending on the technological aptitude of your team.
- For enterprise: DynamicSignal, SocialChorus and PostBeyond. These options work well for bigger companies or for companies that have several locations.
7. 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 key metrics like Facebook engagement and new online reviews.
- Ask employees for suggestions on how to improve.
- Recognize leads that converted into sales.
- Review results of the sales follow-through.
Always consider your customer’s preference. Studies show that they’d much rather see “stories” about your employees than be served ads. Make the stronger connection! Leverage the power of your team to create relevant content that highlights your staff. It’s the key to unlocking social media success.