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Ian Ferguson: Getting A Brand Boost Through Social Media

Within each company, regardless of size, industry or product and service offerings, people are using social media. Social media use engages employees, both on the social and professional level. Employers need to understand that employees who use social media effectively - and positively - are an important asset to the company brand.

Eighty-eight per cent of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, while 50 per cent post messages, pictures or videos about their employer on social media, according to Weber Shandwick’s study. The research further indicates that most employers do not encourage their employees to use social media but, for those that do, they see an almost immediate increase in revenue. As social media usage has become a global phenomenon, trends in the Bahamian context are likely quite similar.

The lesson to take away from this information is that the more we encourage employees to use social media, the more they will share and the greater the returns for the business. How do we accomplish this goal and shift the prevailing mindset that social media presence constitutes a waste of man hours? Here are a few suggestions:

Get management buy-in: Some of your company leaders may already use social media, so it is wise to present them with your plan for engagement. Allow the ‘with-it’ leaders to encourage those non-users on the executive team to see the value in properly using social media.

Identify the social media champions on your team: Your employees probably range from very active to minimally active on social media. Why they use it will vary, too. Some may use it for industry or career-related purposes, while others may share jokes or selfies.

Identify and reach out to your most active social media participants, especially those who regularly post work-related content: Ask them what you can do to help them post more company-related content. They may also have ideas on how the company can gain social followers while maintaining relevancy to your audience.

Offer social media training for employees: Employees may be looking for an opportunity to start using social media or deepen their usage. Identify best practices for each channel, including how to set up a good profile and ways to engage those that ‘hit up’ the social media pages.

Enlist the expertise of an outside consultant, your current social media manager or your most active social employees to lead social training or best practices sessions. Finally, be sure to clearly outline company policies regarding responsible social media presence and the sharing of confidential information.

Give employees material to share: From company websites and blogs to internal newsletters, let employees know where to find and share news. Everything from company awards, job openings and good press mentions give the company the positive public coverage it needs. Include shareable text and links, Twitter-ready posts, hashtags and uploadable images.

Engage: Acknowledge employees who post about your company by re-sharing, commenting or liking their posts on social media. This public conversation creates value for both you and your employees. To keep track of social activity, consider using available monitoring tools.

Be real and personal: Social media updates should not sound like they were written by a corporate-speaking robot. Translate corporate efforts and company values into simple, real-world language to ensure you come across on social media with an authentic voice. Speak the language of the generation your business targets.

Experiment: Social media best practices and platforms are constantly evolving. Whenever a new feature is announced, brainstorm ways to get employees involved. Do no be afraid to try out new or underused social platforms.

Bring new employees and social media-hesitant employees along. As they come on board, be sure to let new employees know about your social media efforts and how they can get involved in amplifying your company message and brand to company followers, prospects and customers.

• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.

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