Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Let your people do the talking

Having tried and largely failed to control dialogue through their branded social media channels, organisations are increasingly turning to their employees as the potential arbiters of their messaging. 

This is a far cry from the days when social networks were often banned in corporate environments to prevent secrets leaking out, or to minimise the risk of customers being alienated, or simply to stop employees wasting time on Facebook.

Early adopters of social media for professional purposes though, have long seen the professional and commercial potential of becoming online bellwethers and gurus. They’ve used LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to build their own communities, creating new opportunities for themselves (and sometimes their employers too) in the process.

This approach is challenging the orthodoxy of social media as a customer service channel (e,g. a powerful way for disgruntled customers to complain publicly). Quite simply, people are happy to moan at a brand, but they’d much rather talk to a person. In fact, they’d probably quite like that.

Consequently, organisations are looking to tap into a portion of their employees’ communication power and push corporate messages through personal social media accounts. For some, this may sound cynical, or simply a recipe for chaos, but proper training and support can convert employee goodwill and ambition into profile.

Implementing such a programme isn’t easy or straightforward. Building a responsive cohort within an organisation and then extending that behaviour into BAU takes time and commitment. But there’s firm evidence that the majority of socially savvy employees are willing to help once they feel suitably empowered and supported within an organisational-wide initiative, sponsored from the top.

No doubt some employers will have certain advantages built in. Equally though, every organisation has something to gain from this in terms of profile and brand. And in the end. Perhaps the biggest biggest benefit of all will be that elusive but valued beast: employee engagement.

Simply explaining corporate objectives to employees is no longer sufficient. Organisations that want to reap the benefits of a fully engaged workforce need to give their employees the opportunity to champion those objectives. Businesses that succeed in this will receive a vote of confidence and loyalty from their customers that can’t be replicated by traditional advertising and marketing spend.

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