I have been fortunate to work with a variety of companies/non-profits at the beginning of their Social Media journey. They have recognized the importance of Social Media in their overall marketing strategy while realizing that it is only a part of the plan. Too many companies (and gurus, mavens, ninjas, etc) see Social Media as the lead dog on the marketing sled. It is not.
But I digress.
One of the challenges facing any company as they begin their Social Media journey is – content. Yes, we know that “content is king” and that every single stinkin’ day someone writes a blog about the need for “engaging” content that gets your followers to participate and share. All top line advice that ignores the real need – WHERE to find that content.
Great content is all about your audience. You absolutely must be focused on them-not on you. There is no secret sauce here. No magic wand you can wave that will automatically generate fountains of great content.
However, there is one thing you can do in your organization that will help. Get everyone involved. From the CEO to the support staff – everyone has a story to tell, an anecdote, an insight. And, everyone likes to see themselves in the spotlight. To be recognized for a job well done. (OK, not everyone….absolutes never work, but you get the idea…)
This starts at the top. If the bosses, managers or leaders do not believe in Social Media no amount of cajoling will get them to participate. However, if your organization believes that the successful use of Social Media is important to your long-term success then you need to make it a part of your corporate culture.
Here are a few tips on how to do that:
Ask, Don’t Tell – You cannot force your employees to generate content for Social Media. In their minds they are already overworked and adding this to their daily tasks will just cause resentment. Start small. Get every department to contribute one piece of content a week. A picture, inside story, idea – whatever.
Show them the value – Explain what you are trying to accomplish and why. Is this about customer service? Making your company more accessible? Getting more people involved in your cause (for non-profits). In the end everyone realizes this is about making money but you don’t lead with the sales pitch in Social Media. The goal here is to personalize what you do by revealing the human beings (and nature) behind who you are. Your people are your greatest asset.
Reward them – Can you incentivize your staff for contributing content? Absolutely! Gift cards, better parking, a day off- all are inexpensive ways to motivate behavior. Be careful on rewarding based on the “best” content as that becomes subjective and can lead to resentment. Initially, you are looking for quantity. Your marketing gatekeepers can determine quality.
Brainstorm – This is a great opportunity to find out what your staff deals with every day. They know what your customers or donors are saying. Have a big free lunch in the conference room and ask them to tell you what they think is interesting and post-worthy.
Ask for the order – Request that everyone like the company Facebook page, follow it on Twitter, subscribe to the You Tube channel, follow you on Pintrest, etc. Recognize that you will not get 100% participation. Don’t judge them for this. Some will be concerned about privacy, others are Social Media neophytes and just don’t get it and there is always that small percentage that just doesn’t give a damn about the company. You can also offer basic training in how to use Social Media for those who are interested but are challenged by technology.
Be patient – Culture change does not happen overnight. It will take months to really get people to make this habitual. And, even after they get into the groove they will lose interest – especially if their content suggestions are ignored. You will have to remind them over and over of the value they bring to this project. And, then you’ll have to remind them again. Once the newness of Social Media wears off it will become just another item on their to-do list.
Use the spotlight– Let your team know when someone scores. Do not be afraid to do this on your Social Media platforms. Everyone likes an “atta boy” now and then.
Restrict access – The goal here is participation, not anarchy. You should NEVER give all your employees unfettered access to your Social Media platforms. That should remain firmly in the hands of your marketing team. You are looking to generate raw material, not a polished, finished product.
I have seen first-hand how getting the entire team involved has led to a significantly better Social Media presence. It can generate more likes & followers. It will spark more comments, shares and re-tweets.
It takes time but the effort is worth it.
Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist