In my last blog post, I promised suggestions on how communicators can help pave the way to social media success. Here are six good ways to start:
1. Encourage a more participative work environment
You can encourage collaboration without diving directly into the social media pool. For example, you might begin by designing meeting agendas that require more participation and interaction rather than simple reporting. On the technology front: Try introducing wikis – websites where all users can add, delete or change content. And, start asking for public feedback – feedback not in confidential surveys, but printed comments in “What do you think?” intranet articles. Be sure to address the feedback you receive – thus demonstrating the “participative” element – through follow-up interactions.
2. Find (or assign) a champion for introducing social media
Let me be clear: This is not someone to be responsible for doing social media, but for facilitating its introduction. A strong social media effort is going to require engagement from many, many people, but one person can initiate that effort and coordinate activities. Start a cross-functional and cross-hierarchical social media task force. Take on challenges such as developing guidelines for organizational use of social media, coordinating social media efforts and promoting company use of social media.
3. Offer training
Not every employee is tuned in to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Acknowledge this and offer help. If some pockets in the organization, e.g., Communications or Marketing, are already using social media on behalf of the company, spotlight the efforts and clearly explain how employees can participate. If you have regular employee meetings, transform one of them into a “social media summit” where you can discuss your social media efforts, offer training and encourage employees to participate.
4. Educate via an event
One company I know used a large industry conference to promote the use of Twitter. At a booth in the conference registration area, attendees were encouraged (and shown how) to add Twitter to their cellular phones, to “tweet” messages and to follow other participants’ commentary through the use of event hash tags. Twitter-savvy employees not in attendance could participate vicariously by following the Twitter feeds of their peers.
5. Actively initiate and encourage participation
Thinking of a topic and writing a post for the company blog might seem daunting to some employees. Try this: Ask the Customer Service team for its list of often-asked questions; then, assign writing the answers to various Customer Service representatives. Or, add an ask-a-question feature to your intranet homepage and assign the topics to employee experts. Use these answers as blog posts. Further, pose questions to a wide audience as a method for generating content by transforming collected answers into guest blog entries. Some sample questions: How can we improve (whatever)? What’s your best customer story? What’s the best way to (fill in the blank)?
6. Celebrate enterprise progress
As employees jump on the social media bandwagon, celebrate their participation. Talk to guest bloggers about what inspired them to write their entries. Ask your sales team if any recent wins can be tied to social media activities and spread that news. Highlight any positive feedback you may receive from customers.
Organizations will vary in the level of speed and enthusiasm with which they embrace social media; but, leaving it to chance or the unguided efforts of the masses is one way to ensure failure, if not disaster. Strategic use of social media can have lasting impact on your company through increased sales, revenue and customer satisfaction. As a communications professional, you can add value by helping to ensure that employees understand the technologies and by building social media programs that support your business strategy.