Employees First!

Most companies that cannonball into the pool of social media and even those that simply dip a toe in often enter at the six foot deep customer end. What all companies should be doing, regardless of their size, is enter the social media pool at the three foot employee side. Here are five reasons to start at the shallow end of the pool:

  1. Long before the age of social media, when word of mouth was simply a verbal conduit, employees were the foremost important representatives of a company. This fact has not changed. As companies acknowledge the importance of the customer voice, the importance of the employee voice should not be forgotten.
  2. Giving employees their own private internal forum to rant about their grievances or rave about their holiday bonus, makes them feel valued. This prevents employees from using public forums geared toward customers to discuss irrelevant or even incriminating information. A company must earnestly accept this feedback and take appropriate corrective action, otherwise the forums are useless.
  3. A 13 year-old cashier may be as clueless about Facebook Terms of Service for posting photos as a 55 year-old executive has no idea what LOL stands for. Since both parties have access to these social media sites you want to ensure they understand the rules of the road. Create a guidebook explaining the explicit rules of each social media site and the formerly implicit rules you expect them to follow when representing your company.
  4. Employees are by definition your brand ambassadors and as such they should be given the option to brand their profiles. A single designated "Company X" Twitter account is not nearly as powerful as an army of Company X branded employees who show the human side of your brand. Employees should have the option to add company branding to their profiles. If they choose to do so there should also be a set of standards and do's and don'ts established.
  5. Engaging in social media is a long-term commitment. After a few months or years of daily engagement your marketing department is going to run out of ideas for tweets and updates. If you engage all your employees from the start you can utilize them to crowdsource ideas for tweet number one through 349,463.