Patty’s company recently lifted some of its restrictions, and now allows most employees to access the web from their desks. The reason you did not hear the great cheer that arose is because, of course, they had been accessing it with their mobile devices for years and really didn’t notice.
The Hand-Wringers, worried about someone uploading all The Big Secrets to the scary internet, had turned their attention instead to encrypting flash drives and banning the use of adjectives, and probably assume that Patty will become the Dolores of Social and keep it all to herself.
Patty didn’t get that memo and her new focus is getting the company to lurch forward into social media any way she can. She’s got a great plan in place with a social media policy and guidelines and training, which will be respectively too dense to read, forgotten entirely and ignored.
She’s getting a blog organized, sorting out her monitoring and madly scribbling hashtags, but is lately feeling a bit like that damn tree that keeps falling over in the forest hoping someone will notice. “They beg for access and now I can’t get anyone to actually engage a real customer or prospect online,” she complained. “Even the sales guys are only tweeting about basketball.”
Here is my advice to get your people chattering usefully away on social.
1. Stop assuming this is actually new
How is it we expect to find our friends on social but not our employees? Of course they are using Facebook and Twitter and Tumbler and Pinterest. Did you really think they were waiting for their employers to tell them it’s okay to use social? Your Customer Abuse department has been engaging customers for years on these platforms. Indeed, the comment I hear most from reluctant corporate sharers is they don’t want anyone at work seeing their keg stand photos on Facebook. The people at work are pretty okay with not seeing that too, just so you know. Which is why lines must be drawn.
2. Lines must be drawn
If you expect your people to engage on your behalf on social, you need to help them set up a professional presence that is distinct from their horrible real life personalities. I recommend Twitter handles with your company name somewhere in there like @williamsxyzco. No photos of dinner or of cats allowed. Plus make sure you have some group handles like @salesxyzco. Same goes for Pinterest and Facebook. LinkedIn allows just one presence per human being and, with luck, your employees have remembered to act like grown-ups in that space.
3. Let your leaders follow
In my experience, conversations with Corporate Overlords about social participation range from sneering dismissal to bewilderment to wide-eyed terror. Here is what you are going to do: set up their twitter handles, have their assistants change and record their passwords and leave them alone for now. The enthusiastic ones will engage and the others will at least have an answer when someone asks if they are on Twitter.
4. Get a bunch of content up
It doesn’t have to be new, though it should be recent, and be sure you break it down into the snack size servings your blog, LinkedIn and Facebook feeds can manage. Remember to optimize the heck out of it and please, oh please, go buy some decent images to put in there too. Curating and optimizing is a great task for a freelancer or a brighter-than-average Skippy.
5. Go visit the HR department
Yes, them. Now that they are strategic, they have all kinds of time to think about terribly shareable stuff like mindfulness and aromatherapy. Chances are a few of them are furiously pursuing Thought Leader status in some obscure LinkedIn group, and they are going to run out of strategic stuff to say any old day now. You can help them out by giving them a bit of content to share. While you’re at it, you can also light a fire under your social presence by getting the recruiters onside. The sad truth is, HR may be strategic but they still need to get bums in seats and social is the fastest, cheapest way to do that. Teach them to fish in the teeming shoals of Twitter and LinkedIn and you will not look back. Open roles are also great beginner tweets and LinkedIn updates for your more adventurous Overlords.
6. Klout is your friend.
I think Klout is mostly a measure of free time and acuity with Hootsuite, but it nicely gamifies social and that is where your Sales Squirrels come in. We know they’ve been all over social for years, at least the good ones have, but most have not let the absence of anything intelligent to add to the conversation, prevent them from picking up a shovel and piling more bullshit into it anyway. Klout lacks bullshit detectors but rewards consistency and engagement. Challenge your Squirrels to hit a 30 and then a 35 and so on with some small trinket at the end. Let the senseless competitiveness of sales take it from there. Your job is to feed them something useful to fling into the ether every day or two.
Next week, we’ll tackle the thorny issue of useful.
The Interesting Things I Found This Week
If you are way ahead of Patty (and, frankly most B2B marketers probably are not), you may be ready to kick off an employee advocacy program on social. Here is a great article from Dave Hawley at Marketing Profs about where to start.
This Other Thing:
I found this label attached to a t-shirt I was given a while ago.
Redbubble is having good, clean fun with their product label and demonstrating the enormous value of continuing the conversation with the customer, even after they have our money in their matching socks. Well done. And thanks for the reminder about the pandas. I keep forgetting.
BizMarketer is Elizabeth Williams
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow me on Twitter @bizmarkter