Social media has become a key communications vehicle in our lives. Until recently it has been used primarily as a personal communications platform. However, the tide is quickly turning in favor of social media as a business communications tool.
As an employer, this thought might make you very nervous as no company wants its employees spending more time on Facebook or Snapchat than on their jobs. But, if you’re open to new ideas, you can leverage this phenomenon for the greater good of your organization. As with any other business venture you just need to look at it through a strategic lens.
According to Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, these are the top social media trends for businesses in 2017. I must admit, this list did not surprise me and many of these trends have been discussed at Goodwill of Greater Washington for the last few years. So let’s take a closer look…
- Employee Advocacy
As marketers, we’re always talking about the need to grow our army of brand ambassadors. These advocates help spread awareness or build affinity for our products and services. I say this often — an endorsement always sounds better coming from someone other than the brand. But what if the leaders of that brand army are right under your nose?!
More than likely your employees are already on social media. So why not leverage their social influences?
The integration of social media in employee advocacy programs has been a topic of discussion for several years. Yet its adoption as a business strategy still seems to be slow due to the fear of what employees might say or the amount of time they might spend saying it.
However, encouraging your employees to share their experiences in the workplace can be a powerful brand builder; provided the content they share is a good reflection of your organization. Therefore, be sure that your employees are happy and morale is good before adopting this approach.
I’ve had many employees ask me if they can share news from Goodwill on their own Facebook pages. My response is generally, “YES! You absolutely can!” Often people want to share but don’t know what to say. You can help ease that hesitation by creating content for them to share. For example, it might be an article about the opening of a new store or a unique and fun partnership. However, be careful that this approach doesn’t come across as a mandate.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to employee social media advocacy programs. You will need not only buy-in from leadership, but your employees as well. Know your office demographics. Will you need to hold training sessions? How are you going to communicate and manage content? You may even want to consider an investment in technology, as I’ve seen more and more companies creating apps to assist. Also, consider the amount of time required to manage this type of program.
What will you get in return? More organic social shares your marketing department didn’t have to pay for (gasp!). Those social shares, will help with SEO and more traffic to your website, create a stronger online presence; all while positioning your brand in the best light.
I’m curious to know if there have been successful programs to implement these practices without the bells and whistles. Either way, this seems to be a big trend for 2017 and perhaps employee advocacy programs will become the new norm in the workplace.
- Social Media Training for Frontline Employees
As someone who manages Goodwill’s social media, I am continually educating and training people outside the marketing department on how to use it. Social media has now become an essential business tool, not just a marketing tool.
I’ve had conversations with our Business Engagement Officer on how to use LinkedIn to build business relationships for sponsorships. I’ve worked with our Business Service Representative on how to manage a Facebook group to share job opportunities with our Goodwill graduates.
Even our HR and mission services departments are now excited about it. Facebook has become one of our top job applicant referral sources and our #1 adult charter school referral source! Our recruitment ads on Facebook for free job training programs have become so overwhelmed with comments and questions that we’ve discussed having our recruiter respond directly from the Facebook page.
While your employees may not work in the marketing department, it has become clear that every associate should have at least a working knowledge of how to use social media because it has become so relevant to helping achieve strategic business goals.
But keep this in mind: just because someone has their own social media page does not make them an expert. Training will be essential to your employees and they will probably want it.
- Executives on Social Media
I have always loved the idea of CEOs and other key executives being on social media. You’ve probably already seen the trend on LinkedIn where CEOs write blog posts as a “LinkedIn Influencer“.
Surprisingly there still seems to be a slow adoption of this trend as well. According to Weber Shandwick, about 61% percent of CEOs have no social presence, while 76% of executives think they should. There are many benefits to consider:
- has a positive impact on company’s reputation
- shows the company is innovative
- gives the company a personal face
- helps build good relationships with the news media
- has a positive impact on business results
- makes your company a more attractive place to work
- enhances your credibility in the market
- …the list goes on and on
People may know your brand and be familiar with your products and services. But it’s your CEO, and other top executives, who will have the greatest ability to position your brand as a thought leader in your industry while enhancing your company’s credibility.
These trends have been around for a while and will not be going anywhere; just evolving. Be prepared to discuss with, and look to, those who have already paved the way.
What are your plans for 2017? Will you be experimenting with any of these trends?