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):
You are not alone if you feel that your social media program has gotten a bit out of control. Do you wish you had a social media policy? Have no idea what is being published when by your social media team? Have nightmares about a PR crisis or waking up to see a picture of you passed out at your desk on the cover of your Facebook timeline as a joke by your social media team?
The #1 question you need to answer to get a grip on your social media is WHY!
Why should anyone care what you have to say?
Why should anyone like you?
Why should anyone comment on your Facebook posts?
Why should anyone talk to you?
Why should anyone ever visit your Facebook page after they click like?
Social Media Is Not Going to Save Your Business!
Social media is nothing more than a tool, a medium to help you connect with the right people and businesses to enhance your life and grow your business. It’s similar to networking but with a lot of tools that come along with it.
Learning the tools is only a small part of what’s required to see results using social media. Many people double spin on learning the tools but never learn the art of social media which includes engagement, inspiration and connecting, truly connecting with their audiences and communities.
You must start on the inside of your organization and work out. You must at the same time start on the outside of your organization and work in. The goal is to understand yourself as well as you do your clients and communities. You must know what they need and know exactly how you can provide value, relevancy and help them solve problems.
Goals and Objectives are a Must!
To see real results such as enhanced brand equity and awareness, increased leads, growth in web traffic, growth in email subscribers, increased revenue or whatever your business goals and objectives are, you must obviously know what goals and objectives you want to achieve.
Developing a social media program with no plan, goals or objectives is like expecting to get on a plane for vacation with no plane ticket, itenerary or idea where you are going when you get to the destination.
You need more than a set of random acts of social media and marketing (RAMs). RAMs will eat every last morsel of return on investment you have left. The best way to identify a RAM is that it is not funded, resourced, in the plan or have metrics to measure success.
For purposes of this post I take a light hearted approach to understanding signs of needing to get a grip on social. Often times doing something or being something seems unreachable. However, if you can look at certain behaviors and understand that they in themselves may be stopping you from achieving desired results then it’s a good step forward.
45 SIGNS YOU NEED TO GET A GRIP ON SOCIAL MEDIA
1. You are already wondering how many of these signs are going to hit home for you. Your blood pressure may have even soared few points.
2. You have already printed or planned to share this post with your CEO, partner or boss.
3. You wish this post had more on how to “get a grip on social media” instead of telling you what you already know is true.
4. Your social media plan fits into one of the below categories:
a. Was implemented with a template you found via a Google search by an unknown author.
b. Was implemented with a template that came in a direct mail piece you received in the mail last year.
c. You developed the social media plan on a two hour plane ride to visit your grandma in Kentucky.
d. Your social media intern developed the plan based on the template their communications professor gave them in community college.
e. You do not have a social media plan.
f. You are thinking, “Why would I need a social media plan, I don’t have a business or marketing plan. We don’t do “plans” around this place.”
g. All of the above
5. Your CEO or Owner of your organization does not know you have invested any resources in social media. If they find out they will likely kill the project and fire you.
6. If I gave you 60 seconds to name every social media network you are on, it would either take you 2 seconds because there are none or you couldn’t answer because you don’t know.
7. If there was an emergency, PR crisis or urgent need of any sort you have no idea where to find the logon and passwords to your social media accounts.
8. Social media policy? What’s that? We have good employees, we don’t need policies!
10. You receive 10 employee resignations the day the social media policy is distributed for employee signatures.
11. The new hired marketing manager’s face turned bright red when she was asked to engage with real clients and partners on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
12. Your social media team consists of you and your social media intern who has no business experience.
13. Your social media consultant consists of your dog, your husband and your 7 yr old son who knows more about Foursquare and Twitter than your CEO.
14. Your 7 yr old son knows better than your social media team and CEO that it is stupid to buy Twitter followers and Facebook likes if you want real business results.
15.You have been executing social media for a year but couldn’t articulate your objectives and results even if it came with a free “get out of no Likes Facebook jail card” .
16. Random acts of social media and marketing is your way of life. Your boss has earned the “RAMs RAWK” t-shirt.
17. Nobody within your organization has been properly trained on how to use social media for real results.
18. When I talk about “integrating social media into the DNA of your business” it give you nightmares.
19. When I write “you need goals and objectives” in every post I publish you want to throw a tomato or other rotten vegetable at me. However, you know I am right and that is why you still read my posts.
20. Your social media team and other departments still work as silos. They spend half of their time competing, debating and arguing on the best way to implement social. Hello…. this is where a plan will help get everyone marching to the beat of the same drummer!
21. Your social media priorities are driven by your CEO or Board of Directors and whatever class they most recently attended. If it was a Pinterest class then Pinterest becomes the priority of the week or month.
22. You are the only one who executes social media at your organization. Primary reason is you have no plan and it’s easier just to do yourself.
23. Your CEO is counting on social media to save his or her broken business.
24. Your CEO told you to stop wasting time on investing in the people in your social network communities. His / her last directive to you was “it’s all about the bottom line, get out there and get some likes.”
25. Your management team decided to put social media on hold for three more months. They think it’s okay to quit posting to Facebook for a few months and that you can always come back to it later when you have some good coupon offers in the New Year.
26. You have no content plan. You post content and status updates to your business social media platforms based on your own personal mood.
27. You spent thousands of dollars on a website with social media buttons. You thought you were getting a social website. You didn’t realize it took more than a Twitter button to see results with social media.
28. The web developer or social media agency that built your website is now out of business.
29. You didn’t worry about a plan when you purchased your website as the same developer or agency told you plans were a waste of time and you just needed to “be social.”
30. Your top goal for social media this year is to “be social.”
31. You have never thought about the term relevency in regard to social media. You think “hmmmm…. posting relevant information might actually get people to read it and become interested in my business.” Yes, keep up with those thoughts… we are making progress!
32. You have no idea what it means to do research on where your target markets are online or how they are engaging on the social platforms.
33. Sentiment? Sounds cool but you don’t know what it means or how to measure it when it comes to social media.
34. Social listening? Your idea of social listening is heading to the nearest bar and gossiping with other “social media gurus” about your assumed competition. Unfortunately for you your competition has done their homework and already know what sentiment, ROI, social business integration means and how to both implement and measure it.
35. Social business? Isn’t that a business that has a website with those Twitter and Facebook buttons?
36. You know more about what your competitors are doing on Twitter and Facebook than you do about your own customers.
37. You can’t remember the last time you emailed your subscribers with anything other than spam trying to sell them something.
38. ROI = Return on Investment. You sure would like some when it comes to social media marketing.
39. Your social media efforts are not funded. You have resorted to an online yard sale and an employee kitty to obtain enough funds for a new intern and design for the new Facebook page.
40. You have nightmares about your website and the multiple teams working on content. You know your brand is being dilluted and you have no idea how to fix it. Reminder, this is where the plan comes in useful again. Go ahead… throw a tomato at me, I’m use to it.
41. You are confident you are losing touch with your audiences including clients, colleagues, partners and associations.
42. You really do want to stop begging for Facebook likes.
43. You are not dealing with any of these issues head on. You are ignoring them and up to now was hoping, wishing and praying they would go away.
45. You are going to read this list again and count the number that hit home for you. Don’t do it. Your time is better spent working on your plan inclusive of business goals and objectives. Get to work my friend! If you need help, call me.
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?