I was at a GeekMeet event this week in Dallas organized by @thoward and was having a discussion with 3 gentleman from a large IT software and services provider. We had just met and were discussing social media and one of them mentioned that they receive emails from marketing asking them to update their social media status when there is an upcoming webinar or other event. While there are many debates about controlling employee behavior on social media and creating policies around it, I found this one a bit exciting and scary at the same time. Now here’s a company who may recognize the power of social media. But could they take it too far and just turn it into interruption advertising?
In this case, the company is outright asking it’s employees to share information with their personal social networks. I think for many small to medium businesses that understand social networking, they do this sparingly to control the noise ratio. As we all know, social media is about listening and engaging in a conversation with a bit of promotion mixed to attract people to our business so we can then interact when ready to consider a purchase. Well, not that simple, but anyone who shows up and sells right away turns off followers and connections. I am sure some of my followers may have felt spammed if they didn’t know me well. This begs the question, are all employees expected to promote the business?
Every Employee Is a Salesperson
This reminded me of the many times someone has asked at a conference or speaking event “How Many of You are in Sales?”. A few of the folks raised their hand and then the speaker retorted “You are all in sales”. He or she then went on to say you are always selling for your company. Regardless of what department or role you have in a company, you represent the company to customers through every interaction you have in person, over the phone, and online. While it may not be your specific responsibility to bring in customers, hopefully you recognize that the more customers you acquire and retain, the better off you’ll be as an employee. Where do you think benefits and raises come from? This is especially paramount in this economy.
Now some of you might say, ”my social profiles are my own and for my own use”. I agree. However, understand the reach you and your team represent for your company. Just imagine the ability to listen, engage, monitor and create conversations with customers, prospects, suppliers, and anyone else who comes into contact with your brand. I am not saying that your employees should be tweeting 20 items a day or bugging their friends about the latest webinar, but think of a few activities that could really extend the company’s word of mouth through your employees sphere of influence on social networks.
7 Potential Topics To Encourage Employees to Share
- Events: Have employees update their LinkedIn and Twitter Status with key events that would resonate with their network. User Groups and Industry trade shows are obvious, but webinars may also be appreciated. Additionally, have them indicate they are attending so this shows up in their news stream. Facebook represents a different audience and medium, so employees should do this sparingly as their followers may already be a fan of the company’s fan page.
- Extraordinary Promotions: If the company is offering a unique or extra special promotion worth generating awareness, encourage your employees to spread the word. Think 3 or 4 times a year, not once a month. You are probably already doing this through monthly emails newsletters.
- Company Awards: If your company wins a prestigious industry award or publication award such as “Best Places to Work”, make sure employees let folks know. Hopefully employees would do this on their own out of pride for their workplace.
- New Product Announcements: Depending on how many products you offer a year, this may also be something worth sharing. I don’t suggest posting every press release. Use traditional channels and media for that. Anything market changing or something that will be breaking news would be a good fit here.
- New Blog Posts: If a key executive pens a new blog post that is driving a ton of traffic or if a 3rd party influential blog raves about a specific product it may warrant a mention.
- Community Forums: Companies are always looking for ways to drive new and existing customers to self-service support forums. In many cases, this offers a better experience for the customer than tech support. Specifically if your company is a consumer brand with broad appeal this could be a good use of status updates. You could get some new followers as well for helping folks solve their own problems. Analytics of popular posts would indicate what could be shared. Again, think once a month here and provide employees a range of topics that they may be comfortable sharing.
- Video: This may be included in any of the above, but video is demonstrating very powerful click thru and google juice so definitely worth sharing. Especially if they are funny and have a potential to go viral.
Now, I know there will be folks out there who completely disagree of this as a practice. I wrote this to spark a conversation. I encourage you to give me your feedback. These topics are pretty obvious. What are some other ways to encourage employees to promote awareness on social media in subtle ways.
Follow me on Twitter @mikedmerrill
Mike D. Merrill (@mikedmerrill)
Mike Merrill is Director of Marketing at ReachLocal and Chief Bacon Maker and Marketing Strategist of Bacon Marketing. He is also Chairman of the Social Media Club of Dallas and co-organizer of Ignite Dallas.