Part 1: The Social Media Opportunity
These days when I roam the hallways of our headquarters in search of that mid-afternoon slump-stopper, I see some of my colleagues furiously running their fingers over their phones and staring at their screens with a silly smile on their faces. Are they wasting precious work hours checking Facebook? Old school management would certainly think so. But astute marketers will see it in another light.
Think about all this social media resource right here, right now—and for free! Here are four things to consider when enrolling your company’s most valuable assets, your employees, as marketing agents:
Millennials Versus Baby Boomers
As you would expect, Millennials are savvy social media users, but has your company equipped them to become efficient online advocates of your brand or product? If you find that they’re not ready, ask your Internal Communications team to help you educate them in a fun, engaging way. At Progress, we’ve used gamification in various forms to engage and educate our younger co-workers with great success. Some popular gamification tools include quizzes, trivia games and meme contests.
Conversely, the more mature employees will know the ins and outs of the company like the backs of their hands. However, even though they most likely already use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in their personal time, they may see these outlets as distractions to the essential core of their work. It’s your job to change this mindset and open their eyes to the mutual benefits of contributing to your company’s online initiatives. One way to achieve this is by reaching out to the employees who are the most passionate about their area of expertise. Chances are, they will see social media as an opportunity to get the word out about their beloved technology and just like that, you can add one more voice to your company’s choir.
Although it may not always be the case in tech startups, seniority often goes hand in hand with age and maturity. Those at the highest echelon of the ladder have reached the top after years of experience in their particular industry. They’re smart, visionary leaders with delegation super powers, so social media may not be top of their mind. That’s when “reverse mentoring” comes into play.
In a nutshell, reverse mentoring happens when younger employees teach their senior colleagues about a technology that is inherent to their generation, such as social media. Reverse mentoring has been most effective when it happens between a junior employee and an executive. In this process, the younger person shows the senior leader how to use social media in an effort to make the executive a more effective communicator on non-traditional channels, which may help the leader develop his or her reputation as an industry luminary. Reverse mentoring is a trend that has emboldened many executives to dive into the social media world and given a powerful voice to many companies.
Debunking the Social Media Myth
“Social media is for young people.”
“I’m afraid of being politically incorrect.”
“I’m technically challenged and I wouldn’t know how to get started.”
I have to admit, working for a tech company, I don’t hear a lot of these remarks. But there’s the occasional HR professional or accountant who would rather stay away from anything that appears to be even remotely technically challenging. Boost employee confidence by reassuring them that there really isn’t much mystery to social media and they may open up to the idea of jumping aboard the bandwagon. A short training session to get them started with a Twitter account and a list of sample tweets will go a long way toward helping them create some social buzz.
The Time Factor
In my opinion, time is the main roadblock to your social media endeavors. I find that most employees are willing and able, but just don’t have the time. As I’m writing this, I’m wondering what possessed me to volunteer for this blog, considering my workload. I need to rationalize this: Yes, I’m busy—just like the next person—but I am also proud to work for Progress and I love what I do for a living, so why not spend the extra hour sharing my pride and enthusiasm with others while driving reader engagement for the company.
You’ll find that this is true for most of your colleagues, all they need is a gentle push to become one of your best marketing assets. Frame blogging as a way for employees to develop their personal brands and incentivize it with cash prizes or free food for the rest of the week. No matter how inexperienced, reluctant or busy your employees may be, the opportunity to turn them into a genuine voice for your company exists and is there for you to seize. With a little bit of forward thinking and very little investment, you may find that inward looking, for once, is the way to go.
In part two of this series, we’ll explore how employees can become your brand advocates outside of their work environment.