Put your people on the path to social media success
By Sima Dahl
Does your company have a social media policy? If not, I have a few questions for you: Is your policy written in plain English and easy to understand, or did lawyers get their hands on it? Does it encourage employees to lend their voices to your company’s social streams, or is your social media policy so prohibitive that no one dares to make a peep? Do you regularly offer training and guidance to your employees, or are they left to navigate the Wild West of social media on their own?
When it comes to social media policies, companies often fall into one of two camps. In one camp is the companies that have no policy in place to guide staff behavior, let alone leverage the collective digital footprint that their employees make.
In the other camp is companies with such rigid and restrictive policies that employees are essentially silenced.
Consider for a moment an alternative scenario in which you provide your employees with ongoing social media training and show them how to use their personal brand to not only promote themselves but the company, too.
Imagine for a moment that your people, of their own volition, share positive information about your company to their networks, such as when the company wins an award, releases a new product or service or lands a new account.
What would it look like if employees celebrated their employment anniversaries publicly, bragged about your charitable contributions or showed pride to be in your employ?
It’s true that not every employee participates in social media and among those who do, only a few will be inclined to share the type of information we’re talking about here.
Focus on those employees who sit on the top rungs of Forrester’s Social Technographics Ladder. Created a few years ago to help marketers think about their customers’ online behavior, I find the research to be useful in thinking about how to empower employees. This becomes increasingly critical as social media moves to the core of B2B marketing and communications.
Each rung on the Social Technographics Ladder represents a set of social behaviors. In your organization you’ll have Creators, Conversationalists and some Inactives, too. While you may never move an Inactive employee up the ladder, that’s not the point. Instead, develop programs to educate everyone, and empower anyone who is inclined to take action.
This concept also proves useful in determining who in your organization should be responsible for executing social media on behalf of your business. You may think that tapping your most brilliant product marketer to manage your blog is a smart move, but if he or she is a social spectator who hates to write, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of creating a socially competent workforce. If your interest is piqued, I recommend this article in BtoB on how Alcatel-Lucent used a social technology to drive employee communication, break down silos and generally become a more agile company.
Long gone is the notion that social media is a passing fad. It is here to stay and will forever change the way we conduct business.
I would argue that the manner in which your company does or does not leverage social technology will be one of the single greatest factors in its ability to achieve and maintain a leadership position in the years ahead. If your employees are a critical factor to your success, what are you waiting for?
Sima Dahl is president-CEO at Parlay Communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.