Everyone talks about the importance of embracing Social Media as a marketing channel because it is free, easy to implement and everyone is doing it. But I also want to emphasize that it is a great channel to retain and engage employees. Leveraging employees, and their online networks and presence, in corporate social media initiatives helps marketing get the brand in front of the target audience via a channel and network built upon trust and reputation. Employees, on the other side, fulfill their need to express themselves, develop their own personal brand for professional growth and get the opportunity to integrate their work life with their personal and social life more smoothly.
Employees and their families are online and using social media related sites more than ever before (I assume I don’t need to give a stat on this to make the point) and they like to share personal and professional content with their networks. The beauty is that these networks are built on trust, reputation, friendship and real business relationships. Therefore, they listen to what each other has to say making it a great word of mouth channel for a brand. However, many companies are still concerned that access to social media sites while at work could be a source of loss in productivity…well, let me say that the next outlook version integrates with Facebook and other social media tools and most of them have mobile devices. So, I would say that corporate mind-set will have to change much like it did 15 years ago when email came up. Next are six simple ways to start embracing employee social media activities to boost your marketing target reach while retaining employees.
- Set expectations and boundaries: Define how social media can help align employees with your business and marketing goals and what the objectives are for social media. Then be specific on what the expectations, implications and limitations are for employees. Clearly and frequently communicate this to them to make sure they are aware and accountable for their actions, but don’t force them into social media and make sure that they don’t feel that they have to do it.
- Educate them: Create a program to coach them on the benefits and limitations of each tool for social and professional purposes. Show them examples of what to do and what not to do. Do it frequently and embrace knowledge sharing amongst themselves. Encourage employees to try it and find their own social media style.
- Invite them to participate: Share with them all your news, campaigns, events, promotions, offers, etc. and ask them to share them with their networks. But don’t stop there, make them part of it by asking them to provide content and help in the creation of these initiatives
- Use incentives: Contest are great, I recommend setting up daily, weekly or monthly contest to rewards those that participate the most or help reach the goals of the initiative at hand.
- Give them feedback: This is key, no one knows how they are doing and how they can improve if they don’t get any feedback. Give them metrics, comments, ideas and feedback in general on how they are helping the company. They need to know the consequences and implications (positive and negative) of their actions to improve them, correct them or embrace them.
- Embrace their ideas: Social media is all about user-generated content and participation, so companies must incorporate employees ideas into their programs. Employees are the ones closer to the customers and prospects and understand better than anyone else what make prospects and customer click or engage. Create the appropriate mechanisms to incorporate their social media ideas.