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Creating Employee Buy-in for Social Media Marketing

Convincing management of the need for a social media strategy and its implementation can be hard enough as it is, but when that strategy also needs the direct support of the employees through their accounts it can be even harder to implement. Employees' social media accounts - for a number of personal and even possibly legal reasons - can be difficult to gain access to or even to give input on. Employees’might work from 9-5 and sometimes much longer hours but their social media accounts represent them 24 hours a day.

Recently I dealt with this issue while attempting to revamp my company’s LinkedIn presence; these are four ways in which we, as Social Media Managers, can create a sense that a campaign is more than just about the company’s brand,but that it’s also about your employee’s personal brand too.

Get the Mandate from the Executive team and then Lead by Example from the Top Down:

Creating a Social Media Buy-InRegardless of the size of the company, initiatives that cross departmental borders and affect multiple ranks of a company fail every day. This is for various reasons, but one reason is avoidable -  a lack of commitment from the executives.

Once you have the blessing of the company’s management to spearhead a social media campaign with an all-encompassing approach that includes the employees' social media profiles as well. You’ll need to start with the executives and management first. This would act as the proof of the commitment of the executive team, that they’re leading the way, and of their faith in you.

An additional benefit of making it about the employees is that you are also getting the executives to work with you and you will have a better opportunity to adapt their profiles without stepping on their toes in the process. The executives of a company are the investor,- partner-, and sometimes customer-facing side of the company. Having them with a blank LinkedIn profile or worse, not having one, is not only a terrible example for your employees but also a strategic mistake.

Make Everyone a Part of the Decision Process:

One idea out of the handbook on effective managing is to ask for input and ideas when seeking to create maximum buy-in. To translate that idea and use it in this case one could ask employees and managers affected, their feelings on social media and how the company could use it. Doing this personally would be a little excessive and poor use of your time, instead I like to take a few minutes and use Survey Gizmo or Survey Monkey to create a short ten question survey and distribute it. If you have a low percentage of completions you could consider making the survey departmental identifiable to see how many in each department have completed the survey.

Attempt to keep the survey honest by keeping it basic and unidentifiable. Use demographics, such as years with the company, employment level (Entry level, Senior, Manager, Director, Executive), and an age range (I prefer choices of 5-6 years). That will cover your first three questions your next seven questions should be framed using Likert Scale questions as opposed to simple yes or no questions. This will help determine the degree an employee agrees or disagrees with the question rather than if they simply agree or disagree. Using a Likert Scale also helps you in creating a comparative survey at a later date.

The survey could be framed around questions these questions:

  1. Do you feel that our company could benefit from a social media strategy?
  2. To date has our company done a good job representing our brand on social media?
  3. Do you feel that you have a good understanding of social media sites?
  4. Do you feel that our customers are accessible through social media?
  5. Please rate these social media sites as they fit in with our brand and services:
    1. Facebook
    2. Twitter
    3. LinkedIn
    4. Pinterest
    5. Other:
  6. Rate these sites on their ability to reach our customers and their decision makers:
    1. Facebook
    2. Twitter
    3. LinkedIn
    4. Pinterest
    5. Other:
  7. Would you like to receive information on a Social Media’s sites best practices?

Invest the Time and Money: Showing your Employees that they are a part of the Brand too:

  • Run Training Sessions:

After you and your management have decided on a social media strategy and which sites to focus on you have undoubtedly done a fair amount of research into the site, its offerings, and how make the most of the site.

Through training sessions, whether in-depth or not you can cover many of the important points with your employees and coworkers. This training is a time where you can send a clear message that this social media strategy is about not just the company’s brand, but also about the employee’s personal brand as well. That you’re putting the time and effort into them so that they look the best that they possibly can to whomever might come across them on the internet.

  • Create Best Practice Guides:

Making this information available to your staff through Training Sessions is a great way to distribute the information in one voice. Best Practice Guides will add to that by giving them access to the same information again, but where they can digest it at their own speed.

I’ve even gone as far as to distribute these Best Practice guides not only by email, but also on my SlideShare account (Which can also be found my LinkedIn):

  • Offer One on One Reviews:

Set aside time for employees and managers who ask for help in optimizing their profiles. Not everyone works at the same speed and not everyone takes in information the same way. Setting aside time for people that might want or need a little extra advice also shows everyone that everyone is an integral piece of the puzzle.

I’m not saying rewrite their LinkedIn page or for you to tweet on their behalf, but show them examples and offer areas where they can optimize.

  • Go Beyond the Box

If you have a varied network see if you know people that can help your employees.

For example: I’ve contacted a friend who manages a chain of professional portrait studios, and arranged a discount for our team members and for the members that can’t afford that I’ve brought in my own DSLR for update profile pictures.

Incentivize the strategy.

Maybe run a contest where the first sales person that closes a sales lead from direct use of LinkedIn groups gets an award.

Don’t limit yourself or ideas.

You’re not monitoring their profiles, but you are tracking their progress:

  • Don’t monitor their profiles for gaffes but rather areas of opportunities

For example if your strategy involves twitter you might want to encourage you employees to retweet more articles from your industry related sites like @Mashable rather than from a non-applicable site like @UberFacts at least during business hours.

  • Work hours are ok, but after work leave them alone

Facebook party pictures; recent college graduates are going to have them somewhere, don’t fault them for it. It’s not nice to be hypocritical. Just make sure they know how to lock down their privacy controls and that they need to use sound judgment when posting publicly.

Most of us (Social Media Managers) probably can tell from the activity on a LinkedIn account whether or not someone is looking for a new job or career. As long as that searching is after hours it’s off limits and shouldn’t need to be mentioned to anyone.

  • Only stick to the posts that are visible to your targeted community

For example if an employee has a tumblr account that is strictly passworded and not public but somehow you manage to hear about it. Leave it alone, maybe remind them that the password shouldn’t be shared with office colleagues but leave them their digital privacy.

  • Be upfront and clear about your social media policy

Often the biggest reason I hear that people don’t use their profiles or lock them down so tightly that no one can see the person behind the picture is that they’re afraid of reprisals at work. If your social media strategy focuses on LinkedIn, then your employees should be visible, if it’s about twitter than they shouldn’t be tweeting privately, and if it’s about Facebook, your employees shouldn’t have empty profiles.

Be upfront and clear about your social media policy, if you don’t have one the American Marketing Association has a template which you might be able to use. Mine is an adaptation of theirs with some key points specifying what I will and will not report.

In Summary:

If you’re like me and trying to gain the acceptance of a social media strategy that goes beyond just the company having a great looking brand page, then you might need to work with your team as well. Gaining their help through building trust and understanding will help you succeed in making the employee’s brand a part of the company’s brand.

Image credit to Fickr user Esther Vargas

Join The Conversation

  • Jason A Howie's picture
    Sep 26 Posted 4 years ago Jason A Howie

    Ben, Thank you reading!

  • SocialBen's picture
    Sep 26 Posted 4 years ago SocialBen

    Great article Jason. Thank you

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