We all accept that the internet has changed the dynamics of business and our lives are becoming intertwined with digital media. As businesses struggle to gain balance on these platforms and scramble to get traffic to their websites, gain more exposure and grow profits among other things, we forget one of the greatest tools we can use in this quest, the employee. “The people who work for the company” are the biggest marketing asset that a brand can have. Your employees can be your biggest advocates on and offline.
Apart from the Social Media manager or marketing team making use of Social Media platforms to market their brand, alternative individuals working at the company might act as ambassadors on their Social Media channels.
When the public sees that the employee would personally recommend their company’s service or product to their direct network; they surely have confidence in the brand.
Even if you have no Social Media presence, your employees and customers may be creating one by virtue of their actions online. It is then safe to say that across all corporate sectors, Social Media training is now mandatory.
Your employees, your potential Social Media Advocacy Army
Employee advocacy has been an HR buzzword way before the explosion of the Internet. You should conduct training to educate your employees on best practices, the opportunities, the potential pitfalls and requirements when leveraging social on behalf of the company. Employees are a key to Social Media success because they:
- They are supposed to be devoted to your brand
- They are trusted far more than the company
- Their messages would not be sifted by social networks’ algorithms the same way that corporate messages are.
Thus treating your employees as a part of your online team of ambassadors is so powerful. Their support will give your brand authenticity, trustworthiness, and reach. Employees can help maintain and nurture current business relationships while attracting new customers.
Reasons to invest in Employee Social Media Training:
We have seen the value of employees in driving a brand’s Social Media agenda. If you were given the option between two drivers – a qualified and certified one and one who did not have any training whatsoever – who would you be more comfortable hiring to take you on a journey? Like it or not, savvy or untrained, your employees are on Social Media. Even if your company does not use social media, training your employees and having guidelines is important. Teach your employees how to leverage your company’s presence on Social Media platforms to generate more connections, build relationships with customers and boost your profits.
Responsible use of platforms
Your employee’s irresponsible use of Social Media can affect your brand’s reputation. Many Social Media users display affiliation information in their online bios, and platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn make it easy for the public to find out a user’s employment details (see figure 1).
This connection or the ability to find an individual’s employer is generally benign, until that employee is involved in or says something untoward on social media. Occasionally a hacker gets hold of an employee’s credentials, on other occasions it might be an employee posting brand-damaging photos. In 2013, a part-time Burger King employee in Japan posted a photo to Twitter of himself lounging on burgers (see figure 2). “The Japanese Twitter user @inotayuta, (whose account has since been deleted) in the Tweet, wrote that even though it was a weekday, the Burger King he works at was packed.
“How many Whopper Juniors do you think I’ve made?” he added. “See if you can figure out it for yourself.”
KFC, Domino’s Pizza and Taco Bell have also suffered similar fates of employees playing with food and posting pictures of their actions on Social Media.
The line between personal and public becomes blurred on Social Media when it comes to scandals and issues of employment. On Social Media, all actions, both positive and negative, are instantly shareable. Thus, a teacher’s questionable posts on his/personal page may go a long way to affect the School s/he works for. There may even be legal consequences for a brand if employees use these sites to view or distribute objectionable, criminal or offensive material. One way to protect your brand’s reputation is through training your staff to use Social Media conscientiously. It is therefore a win win for everyone when your employees are educated to use Social Media responsibly.
Avoiding online disasters
Social Media can undoubtedly build or ruin a reputation. There are countless examples of blunders by brands on social which were risky enough to bring them to their knees. There have also been cases of employees accidentally giving away confidential or un-released company information on Social Media or putting up erroneous information.
America airlines for example, unintentionally tweeted a shockingly explicit picture (see figure 3) whilst responding to a customer on Twitter. “The tweet was pulled down about an hour later, but the damage had been done. The tweet spread through Twitter very, very fast. According to a spokesperson for the company, US Airways was attempting to flag an inappropriate tweet that contained the graphic image. In doing so, the pic.twitter.com URL was copied, as well. Then the graphic image was inadvertently pasted into a tweet sent to another user. The airline’s spokesperson said they’re very sorry for what happened and that it was an honest mistake”.
Creating an army of advocates
Brands are now seeking ways to gain traffic or attention through Social Media networks. The internet has the potential to engage, inflame and rouse many communities.
To augment marketing efforts
Enhance your marketing efforts by using your employees as content generators for your brand on Social. I was recently recommending an Instagram account for a printing company. I thought the immense creative talent they had would explode on Instagram if they created an account and were able to train their staff on how to use that platform. Your employees have other talents apart from what their jobs require. You can explore this and allow them to create content on behalf of the company. This will give your brand a source of diverse, authentic, relatable and trustworthy content.
To expand your network
By training employees on Social Media use, brands can reach wider audiences. The sum total of your employees Social Network may exceed your own brand’s network by leaps and bounds. One employee can even influence more people than your brand. Making your employees your brand ambassadors on Social Media means harnessing their network of friends and friends of friends! Training your employees in the proper techniques to use in broadcasting to their networks is an advantage for your brand. See figure 4.
To enhance your employees knowledge
There are issues of productivity tied in with employee use of Social Media. Some companies go to the extent of censoring Social Media sites on their work-sites altogether. Never attempt to stifle employee use of Social Media. Instead, offer Social Media guidance that will increase their information literacy, and allow them to understand that actions (or speech) have consequences. Let them know what is appropriate to post on Social Media and what sensitive company information is. Proper education on the use of Social Media may also help employees to use Social Media purposefully and curb unproductive wandering on Social Media sites during working hours. A formal Social Media literacy programme (you can even add certification) will also help your employees to leverage Social Media to build their own personal brands online. Training equips your employees with the know how’s and enlightenment about the basics of popular platforms. Clearing confusions about Social Media platforms and tools through training will additionally give your employees a sense of empowerment.
To nurture internal marketing and networking
I have seen firsthand how a WhatsApp group has transformed the way employees viewed an organization and how they communicated with each other. Your employees tend to feel more engaged in the workplace if they feel informed, believe they belong and consider their opinions are heard. By encouraging the responsible use of Social Media through training you spur higher levels of internal employee engagement. Social Media has changed the way we communicate and presented great opportunities for business in terms of internal communications. There are a lot of useful collaborative Social platforms organizations can use to boost productivity.
To directly engage with customers on behalf of the company
When employees are properly trained they can engage with customers on forums where the brand is not even present. Not every brand can afford to be ‘everywhere’ on Social Media. Your employees can however be. Training them to engage with prospects and even customers on your behalf can help your brand extend itself everywhere and respond to the needs of customer. Suitable training will empower your employees; it will also give the brand a level of confidence in their employees acting on their behalf.
Social Media Guidelines for the company
Any company, big or small needs guidelines to manage employee Social Media use and its potential impact on their brand. This is an area where training is needed and a good Social Media policy can be effected to protect a brands reputations.
Educate your employees and see a spike in your profits through exposure, brand awareness and increased revenue. Encouraging them to use Social Media and equipping them by way of training is one of the best investments a brand can make in this internet age. And if your company would like to hire me to either provide on-site Social Media training to your team, and/or to help your company organize an internal Social Media training programme for your employees, please feel free to contact me through any of the communication means below! I will be delighted to assist you.
I hope you found this article helpful! Please let me know if you did.