A Social Media Strategy that Engages Your Team
Today, your team members represent your company on a 24-hour basis by tweeting, posting and sharing on behalf of your brand, giving them the chance to enhance brand reputation, attract new followers and build trust with existing clients.
Thus, a ripe opportunity exists to engage your employees in a company-wide social media strategy. But how can you do so successfully? Implement these three best practices from Forbes to improve your communications in the year to come:
Craft social media guidelines.
Provide your team with the tools to be effective in the digital, social space. Your team members are powerful spokespeople for your company, so what they post should always be consistent with your PR and brand communications.
Start by identifying the platforms that are the best fit for your brand and training your staff on how to use them. Your team may already be well-versed in Twitter, but do they know that you typically use it to share company news while thought-leadership content is distributed on LinkedIn? Explain where each key platform fits into your content strategy. Include useful tips like focusing less on products and more on business insights, which studies have shown 92% of B2B buyers prefer.
Just as important is making sure your employees are attuned to your brand by familiarizing them with your company's mission, vision and voice. At Dell, employees must complete a training program known as Dell's Social Media University before they're given the green light to post. The onboarding process doesn't just explain the content requirements of each social platform -- it also explains how best to interact with customers and when to involve a customer service professional. To make sure employees are always on the cutting edge of social media, Dell has offered dozens of classes that delve into up-and-coming technologies like live-streaming video and topics like how to deal with online trolls.
Once your team is sufficiently trained, it's time to encourage them to become active participants in your social media strategy. Provide material like original research, whitepapers, infographics and other data visualizations that your staff can easily share. LinkedIn reports that content shared by employees can increase total company engagement and double a business's usual click-through rate.
Support employees in becoming independent brand ambassadors by sharing on their own terms. Start by motivating your executives to post on social media, which will set a positive example for other team members, drive employee buy-in and give employees an image, style and ethos to emulate. Work with HR to engage new team members during the onboarding process, along with leaders in departments like sales and engineering to tap their employees' unique expertise.
Our employee engagement team encourages staff members to update their LinkedIn profiles with up-to-date brand information, in addition to providing free headshots for those based in New York City. We want employees to feel proud they work for Dataminr, so we aim to provide the tools they need to show that on social media.
Companies continue to find innovative ways to encourage employee social media activity: Some create a leaderboard that displays sharing activity and engagement levels, thus turning the effort into a contest with employee recognition opportunities and rewards. Content shared through Hewlett Packard's employee engagement program, which was created in conjunction with the HR and legal departments, has been known to receive eight times more engagement than content shared through a branded account. All of these methods can aid your company's recruitment strategy, too. Employees who are passionate about their place of work on social media can attract new potential candidates.
It's also strategic to create custom hashtags that your staff can use when they post about a conference, webinar or other company-related event. When Intel team members post about Intel products, for example, they're encouraged to include the hashtag #IamIntel to disclose the relationship between the employee and the company. This proves especially vital when employee posts endorse your business.
For all its advantages, social media comes with a modicum of risk—a reality we can't ignore. The online feedback your employees receive from clients may not always be favorable. No matter how low impact it may seem, there's always a chance that an employee will comment on a situation with an uninformed or insensitive point of view. I've seen brands react to news and events without first getting the entire story—and employees can easily fall into the same trap.
Formulate a plan for how to react if an employee finds him or herself embroiled in a difficult situation or if a team member posts a negative comment. Just as you need guidelines for how and where to post, you should outline the rules for reacting to other social media users in real time and establish the consequences of going astray. Your brand is committed to being respectful to your customers, so your employees should be, too.
When you recruit your team to help you promote your brand and leverage the power of social media, your company can reap unprecedented benefits. This year, invite your staff to take part in growing your brand and business online.