How to Get Employees to Embrace Social Media

social media how toAre you struggling to get your social media activities off the ground?

Do you want to get more people inside your organization to support your social media activities?

If so, you’re not alone. Small businesses to Fortune 500 companies find themselves facing these challenges.

In this article, I’ll show you how to create an internal social media structure that will help you develop an effective long-term social media presence.

#1: Define the End Goal

First, identify how and why social media will be used to meet specific business and brand goals.

For example, a business goal is to increase revenue by 10%, whereas a brand goal is to create deeper relationships with your existing clients.

Clearly define realistic, concrete and measurable goals to give your team objectives to pursue.

set goals

Define your goals to create the internal structure you need for your social media presence. Image source: iStockPhoto.

#2: Create a Social Media Task Force

Depending on your company’s size, one person or a group of people will lead your social media efforts. Assign the following roles to group members:

  • Lead strategist: Responsible for long-term strategic vision and ensuring day-to-day initiatives are mapped back to specific goals.
  • Content manager: Leads all content strategy and development across social. This role often extends into website and other digital properties.
  • Community manager: Publishes content across all social media channels; spurs conversations with existing and prospective customers, influencers and media.
  • Analyst: Measures the success of social media by benchmarking key performance indicators (KPI) against business and brand goals.
  • Social media coordinator: Facilitates communication by planning monthly meetings and staff emails. This individual may also be a resource from the core team (versus creating a new role).

Kathleen Ngo, social media specialist at Sony Electronics, says:

“At Sony, we recognize the impact social can have in terms of driving brand awareness and even conversion. Having a team devoted to social allows us to be nimble and responsive. We’re able to implement real-time marketing efforts to supplement our larger brand campaigns, as well as to understand the voice of the customer and pass valuable feedback along to our product teams. We can go beyond content creation and focus on other verticals, including events/sponsorships and influencer relations.”

All of these individuals work closely together to collaborate on content approaches that appeal to your target audience(s) and decide how to execute campaigns and find the most valuable and relevant tools your brand will use.

teamwork

Your social media task force will work together for successful social media campaigns. Image source: iStockPhoto.

#3: Develop a Holistic Social Media Strategy

Once the team is assembled, strategists lead and work with all team members to lay the groundwork for your social presence through a holistic social media strategy. The team answers questions such as:

  • What do you want to achieve by being present across social media? What’s the goal?
  • What are your target audience segments? Are there multiple segments—for example, media versus consumer? Based on this, across which social networks should the brand be present? What should each channel do? What should it not do?
  • How does brand voice translate across social channels? What types of words and tone best describe your brand? What types of words do not?
  • Using social media monitoring, competitive insights and focus groups, what is/are your target audience(s) interested in learning? Based on these insights, what’s your brand’s content strategy?
  • How often should content be proactively published across each channel?
  • Which tools can be used to streamline publishing, monitoring and measurement?
  • How do social media efforts tie into your larger digital ecosystem? How can your team support and/or leverage other groups working in digital, such as your brand website, one-off campaigns, SEO, SEM and display advertising initiatives? How often should you meet and communicate?

The team will develop company-wide social media guidelines, which are applicable to both the social media task force and employees. These rules are shared and approved by senior leadership, and made public to the company through a staff email and on the company intranet to minimize risk of how your brand is represented across social media channels.

This strategy is referred to during each team meeting to ensure all individuals are collectively working toward the same goals.

#4: Consistency Is Key

To ensure content is consistently developed, published, tracked and analyzed, hold weekly one-hour social planning meetings where each resource spends 10 minutes to update team members on what he or she has recently learned.

planning meeting

Regular social planning meetings facilitate the success of your social media marketing. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Devote the meeting’s last 20 minutes to brainstorming. One-half of the month’s meetings focus on strategy to ensure all parties are on the same path toward the brand’s long-term social media footprint. The other two meetings focus on content ideation to identify new ways to deliver content through creative assets, contests, etc.

#5: Use Tools to Your Advantage

Whether you do or don’t have a budget, various tools are available to effectively support content publishing, tracking and optimization:

Free tools:

  • Publishing: HootSuite simplifies content publishing and helps you track links. Use this tool to schedule content in advance, but keep in mind the importance of proactively checking social profiles daily to respond to messages. Be cautious of pre-scheduled content during current events such as natural disasters, and be sensitive to the local, regional and/or national community during difficult times.
  • Measurement: Use Wildfire App’s monitoring tool to benchmark against competitors and gauge social community growth over time.

    wildfire app

    Use Wildfire to monitor the growth of your social community.

Paid tools:

  • Workflow and publishing: For more complex organizations with longer-cycle approval processes, Kapost helps create workflow streams and assigns specific roles such as “final approver” to various individuals.
  • Social media listening: NetBase provides tracking of specific keywords including branded, competitive and topical terms (to gauge general chatter around set topics) across digital. NetBase supports content strategy development to ensure materials created for social channels align with what the target audience is interested in learning.
  • Measurement and competitive benchmarking: Plug in your social channels against competitors through SocialBakers to get a sense of how you stack up in the industry. You can discover which specific campaigns, individuals and content perform best.

#6: The Team Should Be “Social”

Create awareness of your brand’s social presence to support the growth of your community and engagement rate online, and create appreciation among peers for how you manage your company’s digital brand presence.

Tips for getting your company involved in your social media presence:

Whether you’re a small or large organization, the social media task force is critical to ensure content is published from a consistent voice on a regular basis. However, opening up the conversation to other employees creates a new platform and way of collecting points of view and content sources to support the content manager.

Set up an email alias specific to social media content submissions, curated by the content manager, to provide new content opportunities and fresh thinking on a regular basis.

Remind team members of their ability to contribute through company meetings and staff emails to energize and enable creativity.

  • Initially, send out a staff email that features the social media team and captures what the group will be doing across digital to illuminate brand channels.
  • Emphasize that company involvement is an important part of your brand presence. While you’ll be sending out notes periodically to facilitate brainstorming, you are interested in learning about who would like to participate in the brand’s social presence, which requires minimal involvement.
  • Create a Google document to send out in this email and encourage employees to log their name in this document, with their favorite part of social media (some might be more interested in brainstorming; others have a soft spot for analytics).
  • Work with these individuals and the social media task force to support day-to-day and campaign-related activities. Make participation easy for them. Ask simple questions and provide easy ways to respond.

Send out monthly staff emails with top-performing content or announcements you would like employees to propagate. If you request sharing of specific content across employee social media channels, draft 1-2 sample posts for easy copy and paste.

Add brand social media channels to your company signature with hyperlinked URLs, encouraging other employees to do so. If you are a part of a larger organization, altering the official signature may require coordination with HR.

social signature

Add links to social media accounts to your company email signature.

Regardless of where social media sits within your company, craft simple-to-digest emails to send off to executives and senior leadership. This keeps them in the know about what is happening across social.

Depending on your goals and target audiences, consider training senior leaders about how they can personally use social media as a voice for the brand and to achieve specific objectives. Keep their busy schedules in mind and provide solutions for how they can consistently be active; perhaps with the support of an assistant, for example.

A few more thoughts…

Creating a social media account takes seconds, but maintaining a presence is a long-term commitment. When you set up an account and fail to consistently publish fresh content and points of view, your brand is hurt.

This is particularly true when key audience segments and media follow the account. From the start, create an internal plan to set up your company for long-term social media success.

What do you think? Do you have a social media plan in place? What would you add to this list? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Stephanie Shkolnik

Stephanie Shkolnik, Director of Social Media at Digitaria, develops and implements social media strategies that connect brands with the people that matter most to them. Connect with her on Twitter @Stephanie00. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.pvariel.com Philip Verghese Ariel

    Hi Stephanie,
    Very informative content,
    the need of the hour.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Best Regards

  • Eric Roach

    Stephanie,

    Really informative piece. In dealing with many thought leading companies like Dell and Adobe using employment advocacy over at EveryoneSocial, it has become apparent to us that a primer such as what you have outlined is incredibly valuable.

    Increasingly companies are discovering the true benefits of amplification — what they lack is the how. Your piece is a terrific primer that truly moves the ball forward.

    Love to speak some time to learn more about your practice.

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  • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

    Stephanie, this is a very thorough overview. As someone who has been in this position, I would add that it is important to encourage employees to weave social into their departments and to have fun. This way it becomes a part of the company rather than a chore.

  • Stephanie00

    Hi Christian, I agree – social can be a great company culture building exercise, too!

  • Stephanie00

    Thank you, Philip!

  • Stephanie00

    Thank you, Eric. These are the building blocks which can lay the foundation for long-term success.

  • Krish Murali Eswar

    Stephanie, I have this problem with a client of mine. No one is engaging from their internal team in social media. Would gaggleamp help?

  • Stephanie00

    Hi Krish, There are a variety of tools that can support getting your social plan off the ground to meet specific goals. GaggleAMP can help amplify your messages within your organization to surface content internally and externally, though you need the basic elements in place such as a content strategy and engagement plan prior to selecting a tool that will help you.

  • Mike

    Thanks for this great article, Stephanie. It’s very helpful in developing our strategy for social media. The questions in #3 are excellent!
    Mike

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    I strongly agree that creating realistic goals for your social media
    strategy and then helping your team understand those goal is where it
    all starts. Your team knowing and understanding the mission that they
    need to pursue can help drive motivation and encourage them to
    contribute creative ideas. Thank you for these valuable tips Stephanie!

  • Stephanie00

    Thank you, Mike!

  • Stephanie00

    I agree – being mission driven drives enthusiasm and passion!

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Very thorough and insightful post, Stephanie! I’m with Christian in that weaving social in an organic way is key for easy adoption. I think it’s important to educate how social can help other departments do their job better and reach goals in an innovative way. For example, HR can use for recruiting, customer service can use as a communication channel, Research & Development can find ideas for innovation and sales can prospect for viable leads.

  • Stephanie00

    Hi Sarah, Couldn’t agree more. With this fundamental shift in communications, social media is applicable to various facets of the business, and it’s the responsibility of the core social media team to bring these opportunities to various departments.

  • Lisa Ullery

    Great article, Stephanie! Very informative!

  • http://www.SocialMediaGuardian.com/ Laura Martin Drew

    Thanks Stephanie! I am working on a sales presentation for a group of employees to let me do this for them. Your timing is eerily perfect :-)

  • Lauralee Guthrie

    This article really helps people close the loop on engaging employees. At PostBeyond we provide the layer of technology to help companies with strategies like this, your people are your best brand ambassadors and engaging employees on social media can be a huge win, of course making sure you have the right mix of education, content strategy and technology. We are finding this is not only a great way for companies to generate traffic and conversions but it’s great for building an Employer Brand and a powerful way to attract top talent. Great article, thanks for sharing!

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  • Stephanie00

    Glad you enjoyed, Lisa!

  • http://www.findandconvert.com/ Bernie Borges

    Stephanie,
    Very thorough…My additional thoughts start with a bigger purpose. Rather than make this topic about how to get employees to participate in using “social media” which is generally considered a marketing function, I like to encourage organizations to think bigger. If they think about ways the business can improve across all departments through employee’s participation in content creation, which gets socially shared, you can achieve the desired end result.

    For this to happen, executive level support is a must. It needs to eventually become part of the culture. In fact, eventually there is no need for a “social media manager.” It just becomes part of the organization’s DNA.

  • Stephanie00

    Fantastic, Laura! Best of luck with your preso to empower employees using social.

  • Stephanie00

    Hi Bernie – I agree. We’ve been successful in showcasing the business and brand benefit of using social media to meet specific goals to get executives on board as advocates for social – which has led to empowering employees.

    Regarding cross-department opportunities, please see Sarah’s/my comment below which very much aligns with your pov about opportunities across an organization.

  • Connor from HootSuite

    Great read on empowering social in any organization. We definitely need to break down the silos and get social baked into the routine and DNA of everyone within these businesses.

    Thanks for the kind words and for recommending HootSuite Stephanie!

    -Connor from HootSuite

  • JobHop

    Stephanie ..What a great post! Every business should read this & encourage their employees to get social

  • Victoria Hanson

    I think the biggest obstacle in getting team members to use social media is both lack of time and not knowing what to write. Content written by internal experts, rather than sales and marketing people is always much more valuable to users. As such, look at using the new platforms that are starting to emerge like Meddle.it and Scoop.it. Created to easily comment on content and then distribute through social media channels, their aim is to reduce the effort needed to build an online presence.

  • Stephanie00

    :)

  • Stephanie00

    Thank you!

  • Stephanie00

    Hi Victoria, I agree – especially as writing for digital isn’t for everyone. However, I think all can bring great ideas to a brainstorm – and then designate the strategic ideas out to the writers that do understand how to position that content in compelling sound bites which will resonate online. To your point, no one wants sales and marketing speak in content, as it doesn’t bring value (and can backfire, driving attrition). Great point!

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Julie Dawn Harris

    Your right Stephanie consistency is the Key and you need to be consistent in everything you do.:)

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  • PhakaratJaruprakas

    Just when I thought Social Media was an over-used, no-new-idea subject you procured this very fresh and informative post. Thanks!

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