It is no secret that social media has become a significant part of our lives and very much a primary source of communication. Social media provides us with an easy way to connect with other people, find out latest news, keep up-to-date with trends, access insights and research brands and companies. It may come as no surprise that a report by The Pew Center in January 2014 found that 74% of American adults now use social networking sites! Social media provides consumers with a ‘new voice’ and has provided more power over to the consumer; research by BrightLocal discovered that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. However, the key question that lingers is how to manage the organisational approach to social media.
Allowing employees to use social media at work and have an online professional identity can bring some risks and that is why many organisations may decide that a ‘no social media’ policy is the safest and therefore best route. However, this can make employees feel awkward and restricted. Organisations which do allow employees to embrace using social media at work found that 78.6% of salespeople who did use it, outperformed their peers and were able to drum up business through using social media at work. So how do you get started?!
You cannot expect to get everyone on-board within the same capacity at the same time, so appoint members of your team who you recognise would be good social media advocates to lead and guide an employee social media strategy; they can then drum up interest within the team. As The Next Web advise ‘Employees need to be able to react to customer messaging, rally around opportunities for content sharing and coordinate efforts.’ Also make sure the Marketing team can provide support in terms of content curation and guidelines. This leads us on to the importance of a social media policy so that employees have the flexibility to express themselves in the way they feel most comfortable with and can do this with their own personality, but in a way that does not breach any company rules and especially ensuring industry policies and laws are adhered to.
To some members of your team, social media may come naturally and the tools and channels you choose to use may seem easy, however, even to these people, a new strategy and channel you are introducing can be hard to get to grips with to begin with. To the opposite extent, some employees will not have any prior social media knowledge. You may not be that confident with social media yourself and if this is the case, undertake some formal training to ensure you are confident enough to carry the strategy through to your team. Make sure your employees are then as confident as you are with using social media through providing some simple formal training and guidance documents; you need to make sure employees are confident else they will simply not bother with it. The training and guidance should not only cover policies, overall goals and consistency with the brand, but also advice on how to undertake online conversations to offline and turning these into sales opportunities, The Next Web comment.
The key thing to focus on throughout this is to support your employees through the business’ social media strategy – don’t tell them what to say or make them feel like they do not have any freedom or flexibility. The way to make sure employees are as engaged as possible is to ensure they can be free to post content and comment on articles they believe in. You should be treating social media as a positive new route for self-expression and empowerment for your employees – a very useful way to increase engagement levels – so make sure it is handled exactly like this. Social media triggers a release of dopamine – the ‘feel good’ chemical and this is much more active when we talk about our own views, which is exactly what we want to be encouraging our employees to do on social media! Social media in the workplace is a great way to allow employees to express their personality in the workplace.