Here’s the problem with trying to grow your company’s presence on social media – it’s really time intensive. You can’t just schedule a few tweets and post a couple articles and wait for the audience to roll in; your organization needs to really engage with the audience if you’re going to reach past the boundaries of your existing followers, and that takes time – let’s call it a couple hours a day. In fact, it can easily be someone’s fulltime job. Or it could be an entire team of people.
For some larger enterprises, it is. But for most small and medium-sized businesses, it just isn’t feasible to have someone spending his or her entire day on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Social media gurus might argue that it should be feasible, but they’re usually going to lose that argument.
So, after acknowledging that social media is important and must be part of your marketing mix, how are you supposed to, ya know, actually have success?
One way is to take your social media marketing out of the marketing department and spread the work across the entire organization.
Activate your employees.
Empower your team and incentivize them to engage on social media. As Forrester Research’s Zachary Reiss-Davis said on a terrific webinar hosted by PeopleLinx last week, people are the most important factor over the customer lifecycle. Employees, even if they aren’t in the sales or marketing functions, are interacting with friends and acquaintances on social media and representing your company.
And your employees’ networks are far more extensive than you could ever build on your own, step by step. The average Facebook user has approximately 250 friends; more than half of all LinkedIn profiles have more than 300 first-degree connections. The larger your company is, the longer your reach. It’s foolish not to take advantage of it.
Whether or not organizations are comfortable with it, employees are brand ambassadors in this social media age (and if you’re not comfortable with it… well, that’s a whole ‘nother conversation). They always have been, but social media platforms have decentralized marketing and democratized how messages get distributed. Your employees are communicating with prospects and customers anyway, so it’s wise to try to coordinate those efforts.
Importantly, organizations cannot dictate to their employees what they should be sharing or how they should be sharing; that will backfire. You need to guide them and then trust them to interact with their network in the way that works best for them.
Scary? Maybe. But they’re already interacting with people beyond your walls, so it’s simply smart business to provide them with tools to represent your company in a good way.
This requires training your team in how best to utilize social media for business – even though everyone is on social platforms, you may have noticed that not everyone behaves professionally there.
And then you must incentivize them to make social media for business worth their while. Simply making it part of their job will only lead to negative feelings, but if there’s an incentive for driving engagement – a weekly prize for most traffic created or for best social conversation – then you’ll activate them and turn them into true brand ambassadors.
The reality is that your employees are already representing your company in the marketplace. Help them to shed a positive light on you.
Become a social business.