Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tanya Williams. Her opinions are her own.
I understand that many companies and managers think that social media is a massive time waster and unproductive distraction. Been there done that – we have all logged into our social media accounts while we are work. Banning them from using it doesn’t actually stop it (how easy is it for them to check on their smart phone?). Putting strict policies in place is just ridiculous.
Have you ever thought about using social media to your advantage? Most of your employees already have their own online social networks and digital profile, so how can you as a business, leverage these and work with your team to help you achieve goals and KPIs?
But here is the big kicker – it can actually add massive value if you use it correctly.
So why is there value in social media? Here are 4 massively untapped opportunities that you need to consider ASAP.
1. Create a brand employee advocacy program
Your staff are your biggest asset and by empowering them you can take advantage of their networks and digital profiles. Most of your staff will have some sort of digital profile of varying levels. Making your employees your advocates is a massively untapped opportunity that costs little when done well but allows massive amplification of brand messages across new channels.
So how does it work?
When set up effectively, your staff are able to share your content to extend the reach of your audience. Eg: If you have 1000 fans on your LinkedIn page when you post an update, you’ll be luck to actually reach a fraction of these. However if you have 50 staff and they each have 1000 connections, your potential reach is now 50,000 people. Can you see the difference? The reach of your employees combined can easily span beyond your current brand reach and adds authenticity, trustworthiness and trust to the communication equation.
Sounds simple enough. However before you jump in head first you need to make sure you implement an Employee Brand Advocacy Program the right way, or it will be doomed to failure. Take time and engage a specialist to put this in place.
2. Use social media and digital channels for prospecting
Social media is a great tool for getting to know your target audiences, understanding what they like and don’t like, what products they might be interested in, how they spend their free time and so much more. Their profiles actually create an ideal persona allowing you to get to know your prospects from afar.
Being able to digitally stalk them (in a good way!) means you can find commonalities, ways to connect and get to know them much better than ever before. Using social media for prospecting doesn’t need to be complicated and is typically more of a long term play than a short term one. Why? Because prospecting online is about watching, listening and building relationships over time – not pitching or selling to your audience.
Just like you build relationships with people offline, you can do the same online. You are still dealing with people and getting to know them through social prospecting can generate quality relationships that lead to larger sales and great opportunities. A change in mindset is required so consider how you can train your recruitment teams to think bigger picture and not just about short term wins an everyone will benefit from the outcomes.
3. Actively using social media for customer service
Don’t make the mistake of thinking social media is all one sided. It is not!
Customers reach out on social media channels to get help, ask questions, make complaints and give praise and positive feedback. If your company uses social media channels then take it further and encourage your customers to connect with you.
If a customer reaches out to you via your Facebook page, then respond to them in a timely manner on your Facebook page. Do not use social media if you are not going to be on social media. You need to monitor your page, set expectations on how long it will take you to respond and consider it like any other customer service platform. You would not ignore a person standing in front of you, so why would you do this on social media.
If they are reaching out to you on social media, it means that they are a warm prospect. Engage in the conversation and don’t make the big mistake of ignoring them. There are a lot of ways this can be done so get creative and see the value in the engagement this can provide.
4. Use social media for internal team communication
Social media is a hugely underutilised tool for internal communication. If you don’t have an intranet site or a specific internal chat tool, then using different social channels for pure internal team communication can be cost effective (pretty much free), productive and an efficient way to engage and connect with your teams especially if they are located across multiple locations.
An example of this would be creating a secret Facebook group that you only invite staff to join. This is ideal for businesses with interstate offices where your teams can share wins, anniversaries, birthdays, market updates and so much more. Why clutter up their inbox with even more emails when you can start to build a culture through live dialogue across all your teams that is inclusive and encourages interaction.
Pro tip: Make sure that your C-suite and senior managers are all on board and also using it since their inclusion and involvement can be the difference between success and failure. If the boss isn’t using social media to communicate within the business, then why would your team?
There is massive value for your business in harnessing the power of social media. So think 2,3 or 4 times before you ban your staff from your using social media while they’re at work. You could actually be missing out on new business opportunities by doing so.