Last week I conducted a social media workshop at a staff retreat. Most of the participants were using social media for at least some personal or professional use. A small percentage were very active. A couple abhorred the idea, and thought I was there to force them onto Facebook. Instead, we talked about reaching vital communities of customers and prospects who are using mobile web, various social networks, and downloadable apps. We discussed how by sharing their expertise and building personal brands in these communities, team members could further the organization’s overall marketing and client retention goals. Then we did an exercise looking at brands in various unrelated fields to see how they were using social media to engage customers and generate excitement. Suddenly the room was buzzing with ideas. The group set aside more time post-workshop for planning and execution.
The takeaway? Staff teams need support–including just plain old brainstorming time–to feel confident in supporting your brand. So, how can you help them do this?
Use the buddy system.
Many executive staff are not digital natives. They’ve heard all the hype about social media. Maybe they are tweeting or on Linked In. But they are not connecting these communities to their day-to-day goals for the company. They need specific, actionable examples of how to use each medium to promote their personal brand, their expertise as it relates to your business, and build their own contacts and communities. After initial training, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to support this work is by developing an in-house mentoring program, teaming experienced execs with younger staffers. The former understand your brand and customers, but need help leveraging social networks. The latter understand social media but don’t always understand effective networking or customer relations. The two can help each other.
Identify the goalposts.
Everyone loves to talk metrics. I’ve certainly talked about them plenty in other posts on this blog. But the best measurement tools are the ones your own team develops. And good measurement usually starts with good questions. What communications are most valued by current customers? How many contacts does it take to turn a prospect into a client? What unique expertise can your team offer or curate from other reliable sources? What outcomes will determine your success? If one approach isn’t successful, what’s the next step?
Choose team captains.
To stay with the sports metaphor a moment longer, who will be the key points of contact in the organization for social interactions (and not just online ones)? Are they trained on how to respond to all kinds of feedback and queries? Are they comfortable being the face of your organization in the community? What’s the crisis response plan and what triggers it? These leaders–who by the way aren’t necessarily department heads–can also reward colleagues for innovation and creative thinking (MVP awards).
Review the 50,000 foot objectives.
Key staff are often connected to your organization through only one pathway–their department. They need to be periodically briefed on new initiatives and the big picture about your brand promise to all of your customers. That includes the experience you promote for your own employees (i.e. the people who report to your key staff). Everyone on the team needs to be able to easily deliver an “elevator pitch” about your firm and connect it to their own experience–why they like working there, what drew them to the business, etc. This is where social media really shines, as employees can tweet or post a Facebook update with their own personality and perspectives.
Staff need more than their names on the masthead or business cards. They need to be publicly thanked when they do a good job of supporting your mission. When staff receive recognition for bringing their own brand to bear on yours, then others are more inclined to invest more of their time and talents connecting to the wider community.
Helping your team use new tools can sometimes be a challenge, but it’s one worth the effort. When they feel supported, the customer and the company wins.