There’s an old saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That truism works as well for social media networking sites as it does in real life. Digitally savvy companies clearly see the value in social media with 88 percent of marketing professionals reporting that influencer marketing lifted awareness for their brand and products. However, there are good reasons to be wary of letting employees post anything they want on social media.
Saying the wrong thing could be worse than saying nothing at all for organizations, and many companies are reticent. Only 15 percent of B2B companies have made influencer marketing a staple of their marketing plan compared to B2C companies who have made influencer marketing closer to 55 percent of their marketing efforts.
So how do you unleash your employees on social media without getting burned? Give employees clear policies, well-composed guidelines, and expert training to help make sure everybody wins. Let’s take a closer look at each of these facets.
Define Good Posting Policies
Bring your marketing team together to discuss good social media posting policies. There are some general things all companies should avoid (like religion and politics), but there will also be specifics relating to your company and industry. Be clear on topics you agree to avoid. Remember to communicate with employees that just because they are on social media it doesn’t mean they can do something that goes against your company’s code of conduct.
Write Up Your Brand Guidelines for Social Media
Write your guidelines in simple, easy-to-understand language. A well-written guide feels friendly and approachable without lapsing into legal and marketing jargon. You don’t want to scare your employees off ever posting on social media by warning them with legal-eze.
Make sure to cover preferred industry terms and what to avoid. Are there competitors you prefer not to reference? Make a list of companies that should never be mentioned. Once you have the do’s and don’ts out of the way, tackle how your brand should be expressed on social media. What does your brand voice sound like? What are authentic ways to mix your employees’ personality with posts about your company?
Different Social Media Training for Different Age Groups
It doesn’t take long for the Twitter-verse to jump on inappropriate content. If something sketchy is posted about your company, your brand could be embroiled in a social media scandal faster than you can say “retweet.” That can be a scary thought, but it doesn’t have to be. With planning, training, and guidelines you’ll be able to give your team safety controls that head off social media snafus before they happen.
When it comes to training, different age groups will have different social media struggles. It’s important to keep your employees’ ages in mind when creating your guidelines. Loosely defined, we can group the workforce into two technology mindsets: Boomers and Millennials.
Boomers Will Need More Instruction
Boomers tend to struggle with how to use social media technologies. A lot of the nuts and bolts things to do, like how to use a hashtag, don’t come naturally to them. Without understanding the finer points of a social media platform, it’s debatable whether you can ever be truly effective. For this group, it’s important to give how-to guidelines and pointers. Thirty-three percent of employees believe relevant content would help them to share more on social media.
Boomers need to know when to post and what the best platform for different kinds of social media messaging is. They’ll also need refreshers on points they’ve already been taught, plus easy ways to reference important posting techniques they’ve already learned. Picking up the ins and outs of posting on social media will not come as naturally to Boomers as it will with younger digital natives.
Millennials Will Need More Limits
With Millennials, the challenge is rarely how-to utilize a technology. These digital natives seem to have a preternatural knack for using tech. If anything they could be too comfortable with it. For Millennials in the workplace, the struggle will be TMI (Too Much Information.) Millennials have such a fluid relationship with social media that they may be comfortable posting more than what their employer will be comfortable with. (A lot more.) Millennials often have no problem posting intimate and personal details about their life that may not be considered professional by audience standards. Be clear with Millennials on where you draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate content online.
Check Social Media Compliance for Your Industry
Employee age isn’t the only factor. Industries like financial and health services face additional scrutiny due to regulations. Be sure your social media activities are compliant with your specific industry regulations. It’s important to design your guidelines to meet your industry to properly address legal risks. Then set up a monitoring policy to ensure ongoing compliance across all your company’s social media appearances.
Empower Your Employees on Social Media
More than 71 percent of B2B technology companies view employee advocacy as a strategic or highly strategic marketing method. But setting your employees loose on social media could be worse than doing nothing. Having guidelines, policies, and software in place to manage your efforts is the key to making the most of employee advocacy for your brand.