Convincing management of the need for a social media strategy and its implementation can be hard enough as it is, but when that strategy also needs the direct support of the employees through their accounts it can be even harder to implement. Employees’ social media accounts – for a number of personal and even possibly legal reasons – can be difficult to gain access to or even to give input on. Employees’might work from 9-5 and sometimes much longer hours but their social media accounts represent them 24 hours a day.
Recently I dealt with this issue while attempting to revamp my company’s LinkedIn presence; these are four ways in which we, as Social Media Managers, can create a sense that a campaign is more than just about the company’s brand,but that it’s also about your employee’s personal brand too.
Get the Mandate from the Executive team and then Lead by Example from the Top Down:
Regardless of the size of the company, initiatives that cross departmental borders and affect multiple ranks of a company fail every day. This is for various reasons, but one reason is avoidable – a lack of commitment from the executives.
Once you have the blessing of the company’s management to spearhead a social media campaign with an all-encompassing approach that includes the employees’ social media profiles as well. You’ll need to start with the executives and management first. This would act as the proof of the commitment of the executive team, that they’re leading the way, and of their faith in you.
An additional benefit of making it about the employees is that you are also getting the executives to work with you and you will have a better opportunity to adapt their profiles without stepping on their toes in the process. The executives of a company are the investor,- partner-, and sometimes customer-facing side of the company. Having them with a blank LinkedIn profile or worse, not having one, is not only a terrible example for your employees but also a strategic mistake.
Make Everyone a Part of the Decision Process:
One idea out of the handbook on effective managing is to ask for input and ideas when seeking to create maximum buy-in. To translate that idea and use it in this case one could ask employees and managers affected, their feelings on social media and how the company could use it. Doing this personally would be a little excessive and poor use of your time, instead I like to take a few minutes and use Survey Gizmo or Survey Monkey to create a short ten question survey and distribute it. If you have a low percentage of completions you could consider making the survey departmental identifiable to see how many in each department have completed the survey.
Attempt to keep the survey honest by keeping it basic and unidentifiable. Use demographics, such as years with the company, employment level (Entry level, Senior, Manager, Director, Executive), and an age range (I prefer choices of 5-6 years). That will cover your first three questions your next seven questions should be framed using Likert Scale questions as opposed to simple yes or no questions. This will help determine the degree an employee agrees or disagrees with the question rather than if they simply agree or disagree. Using a Likert Scale also helps you in creating a comparative survey at a later date.
The survey could be framed around questions these questions:
Do you feel that our company could benefit from a social media strategy?
To date has our company done a good job representing our brand on social media?
Do you feel that you have a good understanding of social media sites?
Do you feel that our customers are accessible through social media?
Please rate these social media sites as they fit in with our brand and services:
Rate these sites on their ability to reach our customers and their decision makers:
Would you like to receive information on a Social Media’s sites best practices?
Invest the Time and Money: Showing your Employees that they are a part of the Brand too:
Run Training Sessions:
After you and your management have decided on a social media strategy and which sites to focus on you have undoubtedly done a fair amount of research into the site, its offerings, and how make the most of the site.
Through training sessions, whether in-depth or not you can cover many of the important points with your employees and coworkers. This training is a time where you can send a clear message that this social media strategy is about not just the company’s brand, but also about the employee’s personal brand as well. That you’re putting the time and effort into them so that they look the best that they possibly can to whomever might come across them on the internet.
Create Best Practice Guides:
Making this information available to your staff through Training Sessions is a great way to distribute the information in one voice. Best Practice Guides will add to that by giving them access to the same information again, but where they can digest it at their own speed.
I’ve even gone as far as to distribute these Best Practice guides not only by email, but also on my SlideShare account (Which can also be found my LinkedIn):
Once upon a time, networking meant going to conferences and getting out there and meeting people. LinkedIn, however, has made networking on a global basis much easier and effective, allowing users to network with people worldwide from the convenience of their own home or office.
LinkedIn has quickly established itself as one of the top social networking sites for individuals and business owners who want to network with others, to widen their customer base, and to keep on top of what’s going on in their respective industries.
Succeeding at marketing with LinkedIn requires time and effort and trying the various methods for marketing with the popular social networking platform is important to find what works for your business.
1. Sell Your Skills.
Whether you opt for an individual or a company profile, your profile is the best way to market your product or service and to sell your skills. A LinkedIn profile is essentially an extended resume that includes a photo and recommendations from others. Fill it out completely to get the most of it from a marketing perspective.
2. Have others Sell You.
One of the most effective ways to win new business is to get recommendations from colleagues and current and former clients. LinkedIn allows you to request recommendations for each position in which you’ve worked and for your college experience. To take full advantage of marketing on LinkedIn, gather as many recommendations as you possibly can.
3. Position Yourself as an Expert.
LinkedIn offers an ideal platform to position yourself as an expert in your field or industry. In addition to individual profiles, LinkedIn allows users to post company profiles. Ideally, if you run a business, you’ll have one of each.
People want to work with experts in their respective fields. To build your credibility and share your expertise, become active in answering questions in LinkedIn’s “Question and Answer” section. Every question you answer will become a permanent part of your profile, allowing connections and others to see your wealth of knowledge.
Be sure to also join related groups and start answering members’ questions.
4. Network Offline.
Networking online provides great convenience, but sometimes you just can’t compare it to face-to-face networking. Find networking events in your city by looking at the “Networking Events” on LinkedIn. Major cities, like Los Angeles and Cleveland, also have their own listings of networking events.
You may also want to host your own networking event, which you can then market on LinkedIn.
5. Link to other Social Networking Accounts.
Keeping on top of all of your social networking accounts can be challenging, but LinkedIn makes it easy to merge your Twitter account and your blog with your profile. You can sync your Twitter account and your blog with LinkedIn, so both are automatically updated when you publish something new. Signing up for syncing takes less than a minute. Interested connections and others can then easily click on your Twitter address, your website, or your blog to learn more.
LinkedIn can prove an extremely valuable marketing tool, if you’re willing to get involved and be proactive. Take some time to look through the website, to read what LinkedIn recommends for what works and what doesn’t work, and invest the necessary time to craft a strong professional profile and to establish your expertise to enjoy marketing success on LinkedIn.
So finding a survey that takes a closer look into the role of social media in communicating with business buyers in a B2B (Business to Business) marketing environment and its role in their buying processes provides some food for thought.
This sort of information is valuable in determining how companies that sell technology products and services will engage, communicate and market to businesses. Forrester’s determination from this survey, is that technology buying is a highly considered, collaborative process, one ideally suited for social interactions, so use of social media in this environment is important.
Forrester surveyed 1,217 technology decision makers including CEO’s in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany from SMB (Small and Medium Business)and enterprise companies with more than 100 employees and asked them
“During the next 12 months which of the following emerging information sources will you use more to inform and validate your purchase decisions?”
This survey highlights the importance of figuring out which channels and sources buyers prefer when they look for information or want to validate a purchase decision.
Takeaways that I found insightful from this survey:
Forums are nearly twice as likely to be used in the buying decision
Virtual Trade shows have become more important due to current depressed economic conditions
Twitter (microblogging) will still rank near the bottom of the list because consumer themes and pop culture dominate this medium
Technical buyers prefer collaborating on wikis
IT architects and infrastructure folks rely more on blogs
Online ads catch the business buyer’s eye. This finding underlines the importance of integrating both traditional and online media into social media plans to not only reach potential buyers but to also guide them back to online destinations and offers placed in more conventional media.
B2B marketers should be identifying key buyer segments (or personas) and research how customers accomplish their purchase decision-making and business buying goals, keeping in mind which social media channels the different vertical markets and persona’s prefer to hang out in.
So how are you using social media to communicate, engage and market to B2B buyers?
Social media tools, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, can be valuable resources in not only networking with people you already know, but also with expanding your network to others. The old adage about it’s not what you know, but who you know is alive and well in the world of work, so use social media and your connections creatively to find and secure a job.
Social media, though, also has dangers for the young professional. Savvy young professionals know there are social media guidelines that must be followed.
For some, a personal page on a social media site, a blog or a website may include information that isn’t necessarily appropriate for the workplace. Before interviewing, go through and analyze your online presence to determine whether a manager or recruiter would be accepting of the comments and images you have posted. If it doesn’t pass the “gut check,” then it’s best to remove that content.
You may think about searching for your name (and variations of it) on Google to ensure everything online reflects favorably upon the image you are trying to project to prospective employers. If you find content you’re not particularly proud of, develop a plan to mitigate the problems this content may cause. For example, you may ask the person who posted the objectionable content to remove it because you are searching for a job. If that doesn’t work, figure out how you will explain this content should a prospective employer uncover it. Some employers run these same Google searches as a part of their due diligence in the hiring process, so don’t be surprised if you are asked. It’s best to be proactive and prepared for such a situation.
Once you’re hired, there are other social media guidelines to adhere to. Keep in mind that your employer may have a social media policy in place. Some companies have very stringent social media guidelines and restrict or block access to sites like Facebook and Twitter. Others are more relaxed in their approaches to social media usage in the workplace. It is your responsibility to know your employer’s policy and abide by it.
Now is a good time to again review what online information is out there about you. You are a reflection upon the company for which you work, so try to remove any subjective content you find. You may also want to check your privacy settings on Facebook. Determine who can see you photos, your wall and your posts. Consider untagging yourself from any photos that don’t project a professional image.