It used to be church and state. Today, it's work and Facebook.
Separate. Separate. And separate.
Right? Maybe not.
Can you marry your job and your social media persona without hurting your company and getting fired? Maybe even advance your organization's brand?
"At a high-level, social media has the potential to influence the customer experience when employees are able to engage in dialogue with the customer and begin building trust-based relationships over time," said Alan See, principal and chief marketing officer for CMO Temps, LLC.
No Easy Task
Great rewards, though, come with great risks. See is aware of that. And so is Susan Emerick, CEO and founder of Brands Rising LLC and the co-author of the book, "The Most Powerful Brand on Earth."
"Empowering employees in social media is not risk free," Emerick told CMSWire. "Some of the risks are known, and some are new. In general, brands that empower their employees in social media must protect information and privacy, comply with disclosure requirements and prevent competitive poaching just to name a few."
"From a strategic perspective, the early adopters were already drafting their organizations social media policies and procedures," See told CMSWire. "They were also providing training through the formation of social media councils and social media ambassador groups."
Keys To Success
Asked what successful organizations do, See broke down three areas:
- Leadership from the front. Companies identify executives who are already doing a good job on social media and highlighting their activity. They use their success with social media as leverage to get others in the company involved.
- Setting realistic expectations. Companies recruit interested employees, but still recognize that not every employee will want to participate.
- Employee profiles are their own. Companies respect the fact that employees’ online activities are a self-expression. At the same time they realize that employees who choose to identify themselves as a member of the company may be viewed as a spokesperson for their brand. To mitigate risk, they may provide disclaimer statements like, “Opinions expressed here are my own.”
Employees with best-practice results on social media have intrinsic motivations to support customers, their company goals as well as their own personal brand, Emerick said.
Sometimes technology helps. Some vendors are offering "social employee advocacy software" that generate auto posts. See has clients in that space.
"There may be mandated compliance restrictions that are unique to your industry," See said. "Technology, in the form of social content distribution platforms, also called social employee advocacy software, can help solve that problem. These platforms house a content library where users have access to a full inventory of posts that have already been pre-approved by the company. An automated corporate approval review process within the online portal can also be in place to ensure compliance of field generated material."
But it goes beyond technology, both See and Emerick said.
Invest in employee engagement programs that equip your workforce with the right support infrastructure, not just technology, Emerick said.
"What I mean by that is key foundational elements such as education and training to build skills, governance models to organize the effort across the organization -- not just in silos such as marketing and PR -- appropriate policy and compliance standards, business intelligence that guides the engagement strategy and then technologies to support scale," Emerick said.
Beyond Shares and Likes
Impressions, shares and likes are so 2010. They can't hurt, but simply getting your company out there only through shares and retweets won't do the job.
"Companies that are looking at employee advocacy as just a way to have employees reshare branded content are short-sighted in their approach," Emerick said. "Leading companies provide a support structure -- just as you would with any other organizational capability. They'll also empower employees to develop content based on their expertise and know-how of a topic area, helping their employees build trust and respect as a credible and consistently reliable source of information."
Title image by pio3/Shutterstock.