Social media has become such a prevalent part of our lives that it's easy to forget that it is still a fairly new medium for businesses. However, since social media is so new, businesses should be constantly evaluating their approach to social media and making it better. When companies started exploring social media for the first time, they tended to turn to a social media expert or the PR team to handle the social media account. Quickly businesses learned that social is all about interaction, so they instead began encouraging customers to talk about their company by becoming fans on Facebook or checking in on FourSquare.
Now, social media is being expanded beyond the social media specialist to every employee in a company. What is driving this change? One reason is that corporate messages don't resonate as well with customers as comments from their friends do. Thus, turning to employees to talk about their personal experiences working with the company helps to provide legitimacy to posts about the company, as well as significantly increase the scale of the company's social outreach.
So how can you go about turning your workforce into brand evangelists?
1. Create a Framework
Sending out a general email asking employees to start talking about their work on their Facebook page probably won't yield you a lot of results. Instead, start by creating a social media policy that encourages employees to use social media and provides guidelines on appropriate topics to talk about. If your company is going to participate in specific social media activities such as a Twitter chat or creating content on LinkedIn, invite employees to participate in those events specifically. Be sure to provide training to employees on the policy, as well as how to use accounts for those who aren't familiar with a particular platform. Most importantly, offer employee rewards for workers putting in the extra effort to promote the company, and also set specific consequences for inappropriate behavior.
2. Make it Easy to Connect
Make it easy for employees to connect to each other online by creating a Twitter list or a single Facebook page or group that everyone is connected to. Of, if your company has the budget, check out social media management software like, Social Sprout. Adding industry experts and customers to this group can help employees to start interacting quickly, and by connecting with each other, employees are more likely to share the fun stuff that is going on at the office, which makes the company more appealing to consumers and potential recruits.
3. Use Your Experts
Social media is all about two-way interaction, and employees are a huge resource for companies that are seeking to respond to questions and comments that customers have. Businesses should document which employees can be used as experts in specific subject matters as well as which employees are most active on social media in order to assign specific workers to certain social media inquiries. With big data services, much of this process can be animated. For example, data on historical response times and which employees happen to be online can be correlated with complaints or questions detected on social media in order for an available employee to be alerted of a question that he or she is qualified to answer.
By setting some guidelines, helping employees to connect and using big data to streamline the process, businesses can quickly turn their workforce into brand evangelists and subject experts on social media. The increased legitimacy with customers and better customer service will make the extra effort worth it.
Image source: @G_Obieta on Flickr