Still today many companies thought a selective management team best did social media marketing. They considered YouTube and Facebook to be time wasters and many even shut down access across their internal computer networks. Many of these companies have retained the firewall restrictions. But is this really what they want or need any more?
Granted, employees may be tempted to “waste time” on their social accounts, but when it comes to advocating and engaging the company brand, there is not better outlet for employees to express their creativity and personality. When you take a look at your advertising budget, consider how much you can save by simply using your already present resource of talented, articulate and expert advisors, already on your payroll.
Train staff in proper social media marketing tactics
While there is a marketing objective, it is essential that your employees be aware of the unspoken rules of etiquette and propriety when engaging with their followers. Many a blunder has been made that have put a company on the defensive due to the remarks made by their internal staff.
Your staff is online whether you like it or not. As long as they are properly educated in the ways of the Internet, there is greater protection for your brand and its image. Once trained, you can rest easy that your staff is off promoting your product or service in the right way.
Teach top social media marketing objectives
Never assume that simply having employees online will produce the desired results. Employees should be aware of the purpose of their efforts. They will more likely become engaged in the process if they are aware of the benefits to them and the company. Teach the how as well as the why. Be sure you first develop a social media policy that can be sent company-wide to all those about to engage in social media marketing. A policy can include a mission statement, general language and behaviour rules, suggested timelines for posts and brand tone requirements. For example, a company that deals in the resale of reclaimed wood may choose to never use the word “old” or “antique” in any of its advertising material. All employees should be made aware of these requirements in order to maintain a consistent message when creating online and more personal content.
1. Teach engagement tactics
It should go without saying that staff should never engage in hostility or criticism of their followers. Explain why comments need to be dealt with swiftly. Waiting months before responding to a customer critique will only serve to enrage the online community. Always remember to be friendly, but not familiar. Your staff should always be at the ready for events that cross their desk. But they should refrain from editorializing. Stick to the rules: Ask, Answer and Assist.
2. Encourage them to be followers
Publishing blogs and producing tweets may be the first element of social media marketing, but it’s not the only way to engage with the public. Get your staff to join LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages where their customers hang out. Make sure they comment and “like” appropriate posts. Teach them how to use software like Hootsuite so they can quickly scan across social portals to gain insight into popular discussions and ongoing commentary. Simply producing content can come off looking like strategic advertising and not engagement.
3. Give a reward for success
However you choose to do this, it’s always better to reward those who do a good job. It can be as simple as showing your employees the positive comments and feedback that a certain brand ambassador has generated. Retweets and Facebook likes are a form of currency. Encourage staff to view them as such. One KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for social media marketing can be for employees to claim ‘likes’ as a prize. This means that you need to analyze and measure success of your ambassador program.
Let employees determine their content
Certain employees may demonstrate strength in a certain area of social media marketing. Encourage the best content possible by letting each employee determine the best way to promote and produce that content. If an employee is particularly talented at creating Powerpoint presentations, consider pushing them to developing a Slideshare account where they can regularly post information. If a salesperson has a YouTube channel already, help to provide them video content for them to upload and share. If you also have a digital marketing agency working for you, talk to your staff to gain insight and input towards creating content.
Finally, make sure that all these efforts have the most effect by channeling everything through your website with appropriate links to form and landing pages. There’s no point in engagement if it doesn’t convert directly to your website traffic.
The possibilities and benefits are endless
There’s no such thing as “wasted time” when it comes to online engagement. Remove restrictions on your internal network and let your team thrive in the online environment. It goes without saying that customers no longer respond to text ads and direct marketing the way they used to. They prefer to see the wizard behind the curtain more than ever. This is a great time to take advantage of the opportunities that online activity can produce, so get everyone excited about the possibilities. Once you trust them, set them free.
What is your current policy regarding social engagement online? Do you have an agency already doing the job? I’d love to hear your thoughts about encouraging staff participation. Leave a comment or question and I promise to engage with you directly, as any employee should.
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