Recently I read about a company that has found that social media is all the marketing they need. Not the first time I’ve seen that, actually, but this company had a different strategy from many of the companies we read about. They relied not just on their own company-led blog and social networking accounts, but also encouraged all their staff to write about their work experiences at their own blogs and social networking accounts as well — and reaped the rewards.
The company has its own fans, but staff members have fans, too, and their fans learn about the company through those networking opportunities.
Not an exotic idea, but how can you make it work for you?
- Negotiate some boundaries. Lots of people write at their blogs, Facebook pages, or Twitter accounts about difficult people they work with, frustrating assignments, and irritating customers. Do you want your customers to see that and know it’s your company being discussed? I’m actually pretty careful when I talk about work, and always have been — even when I just had a completely anonymous personal blog. But many people feel that these are places for free expression, about their employers as well as other aspects of their lives. And many readers are bored or made suspicious by reports about a company that are all good news all the time. And that’s before you even think about ill-judged photos from Super Bowl parties. This is something to discuss before you decide to count this as part of your marketing plan.
- Support staff in their networking. One of the fears companies had (and perhaps still have, though it’s not getting much press anymore) about social media was that people would waste work time on it. I’ve always figured that workers who would waste time on social networking were the same ones who would waste time on physical-world networking, too, or on making things out of paper clips, for that matter. Some people are more inclined to waste time than others, and that’s not Facebook’s fault. But if your company website gets traffic from your staff’s Spoke profiles, it makes sense to give them some time to work on those profiles on company time.
- Consider training. Tweets about your projects, discoveries, or special offers from all over Twitter can make your company look pretty exciting. A bunch of abandoned Twitter accounts can make you look lame. A staff development workshop on how to use online networks for the benefit of the company is a good investment, and can make the difference between success and failure. Then, learn from years of research in staff development and make sure that staff members support one another’s efforts. Comment at your colleagues’ blogs and recommend them at LinkedIn, and online networks can provide another means of communication for your firm, as well as a marketing opportunity.