What do you get when you mix your company’s top PR, Marketing, Product Development and Sales minds with passionate, creative and knowledgeable employees? A social media action plan that can cover more areas and produce more powerful results than any single marketing person on their own.
It still amazes me how many corporations actually block the use of any social media use during work hours. According to a 2011 openDNS study, 14% of companies blacklist or block FaceBook from company computers – compared to only 1% blacklisting pornography sites. However keeping employees from engaging on social networks can prevent a company from leveraging its most powerful assets – knowledgeable, creative and passionate employees.
When you allow employees outside the marketing department to get involved in online conversations, your brand has the ability to provide real insight and valuable conversations on projects and expertise related to your business goals. These conversations naturally go beyond pushing a PR crafted mission statement. These conversations help humanize your brand and build real relationships with customers, vendors and partners in a way that direct mail or other one-way conversation channels just can’t.
So unless your employees and partners are engaged in top secret projects, let them talk about it! Allowing your employees and other stakeholders to share openly about projects and experiences they are most passionate about, lends itself naturally to exciting, genuine and viral content on the social web. And everyone from project managers, customer service reps, to human resources can get involved in the social space.
Companies like Zappos boast more than 500 employees using personal Twitter accounts to help promote the company’s ideals and products. And Best Buy bravely empowers more than 150,000 of their employees to join customer conversations throughout the social web.
But before allowing employees to tweet, post or comment on your company’s behalf, take time to develop a social media strategy and set of guidelines to best fit your company’s values, goals and mission.
Even if marketing and PR individuals are no longer the primary users of social media in your company’s new strategic plan, that is not to say that they are not a vital piece of it. In fact, no one in your company should be unleashed on the social web without a plan, crafted in sync with the goals of your marketing, sales, product development and PR people. Just as corporations have brand guidelines establishing logos, colors and tone of voice, they should also take time to craft social media guidelines that any employee who engages on the social web should adhere to.
Nokia, the mobile phone manufacture, requires employees to complete a six-part social media certification before they can become active on the social web. While Best Buy is able to successfully manage thousands of customer service and tech reps using social media through ongoing training and conferences.
Smart companies that allow driven, passionate, creative and knowledgeable employees to partake in social media on the company’s behalf, have taken time to train staff on social media best practices as well as develop guidelines for when employees should engage in social media, and when they should simply listen. These primary ingredients are a smart company’s recipe for social media success.
Holly Berkley is a San Diego Internet Marketing Consultant and author of Marketing in the New Media and Low Budget Online Marketing for Small Business. Her new book Social Media in Action… will be available in Fall 2011. Learn more about the best way you can involve your employees in the social media process at www.corporate-social-media-training.com