When social networking became a hype, some employers got a little worried. Aside from the distress that other employers might lure them away, they are also anxious that their team members might share something that shouldn’t be shared online. But nowadays, social media has become a part of inbound marketing. Instead of incessantly worrying what might get wrong, employers are now looking into opportunities to leverage social media in promoting their products and services, and transform their team members into brand ambassadors.
Some companies may have basic social media policies like what they should and shouldn’t post online. But in addition to this, every team member (not just the social media manager) should also have a social media literacy through formal, hands-on training.
Importance of Social Media Education
In 2013, Altimeter Group, an independent research and strategy consulting company, conducted a survey on companies’ top social strategy priorities (Fig. 1.2) in which the need to develop internal employee education and training turned out to be a priority. Yet when asked if they have a formal social media education program, more than 60% reported having none or only ad hoc efforts.
Altimeter also found that companies develop internal social media education programs to achieve two primary business objectives: 1) Reduce social media risk, and 2) activate employees for engagement and advocacy. The first objective aims to safeguard a) the company, against social media risk that can result in brand damage or even revenue loss; and just as importantly, b) employees, from penalties as severe as termination.
The second one intends to scale employee use of social media for engagement to become a promoter on behalf of the brand. This includes encouraging them to tell their stories and share content about their company to share their perspective and further influence the public.
Moreover, the study revealed that there are four set of roles and learning objectives addressed in the social media education programs that companies arrange (Fig. 3). The first component should strive to impart judgment; the second component enables employees to become advocates in social media; the third drives business impact; and the fourth focuses on driving business results with social media. Figure 4 contains 10-action steps for an effective social media education program.
Adobe, a Twitter-Savvy Tech Company
When Cory Edwards, head of Adobe’s Social Business Center of Excellence, found out through Edelman’s Trust Barometer that the average employee is trusted significantly more than a company’s CEO, he knew that they should be educating their employees on social media. He believes that a company should not only be present online but also be able to engage with customers.
Cory launched Adobe’s Social Shift Program to let their employees share best practices for social sharing and ultimately become brand ambassadors. Unlike other social training programs, this doesn’t just tell them about the don’ts – it lets them lose their inhibitions and become confident in advocating their brand. As of this writing, it was reported that 30% of Adobe’s employees have built their knowledge and has gone through training globally. As a result, Adobe Systems ranked fourth in the list of top companies in employee advocacy in the technology industry. It has the highest percentage of employees on Twitter from the company’s total workforce. One of their brand ambassadors, Julieanne Kost, Principal Photoshop & Lightroom Evangelist of Adobe, has over 33,000 Twitter followers and shares blogs and tutorials regularly. She has even generated more Creative Cloud Subscriptions than the official Photoshop Twitter account.
“We’re seeing 20% of our subscriptions to Creative Cloud and 20% of the leads that we are generating on the Marketing Cloud side of the business influenced by social media,” said Edwards. “Social is important,” he added.
These researches only prove that your own team members can be your biggest marketing asset. Transform your team members into brand ambassadors through proper social media education.
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