One of the most under-leveraged resources for many brands, within social media, comes from within: their employees. Research has continuously shown that people trust word of mouth or recommendations anonymously or via personal networks. So then this raises the question - why don't more companies leverage the support of their employees? (Hiring interns is not the answer to this question).
While Social media has a reputation for distracting employees, it can actually have the opposite effect if used properly. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. can improve communication between an employer and its employees, along with employees and coworkers. Here are some steps an organization can take to start engaging employees in their social media activity:
Employees need to be trained on the uses and misuses of social media. Along with this, they need to understand that they will be held accountable if they write something that damages the reputation of your brand. Don't assume they know this! Have clear guidelines and a social media policy can help veer this discussion in the right direction.
A great way to engage employees is to encourage them to share and lobby on behalf of the brand online. However, before you launch the proactive army of bloggers, Facebookers or Tweeters - you need to make sure you have a social media policy in place. A social media policy should be high priority for your brand, because sometimes even well-meaning employees can severely damage your company's online reputation.
Lead by Example
If your company is not on twitter, then why should your employees? If your business is not blogging, then what incentives do employees have to write on behalf of the company? Offering an existing channel where you're successfully sharing content provides good examples for employees.
Whether it's a potential customer or potential employee, people will always research companies to find more information. Have a team of savvy and successful brand ambassadors can help set the right tone and shows that the company cares about what is said about their brand online.