When you think of who manages a company’s brand presence on social media, which department comes to mind first? For many, the answer is Marketing, PR, and Communication teams.
Social media is so prevalent in it underpins our personal and professional relationships, so much so that what happens in the social realm has an impact on every relationship we have. That’s why siloing social media to one department is a huge miss. Harnessing the power of social can transform your brand and should be ingrained in every department’s DNA.
Let’s take a step back and look at the word “social.” At its root, social goes hand in hand with the community. Social gets its power from people with differing viewpoints and backgrounds from different communities that engage around interests, issues, actions, and brands. You’ve probably seen “viral” content because someone from one of your communities shared it with you.
Now think about your company. Besides your service or product, who carries the power of your business? Every one of your employees, your people!
“Social businesses implement social technologies, strategies, and processes that span across their entire enterprise, creating and optimizing collaborative ecosystems of employees, customers, partners, suppliers, communities and stakeholders in a safe and consistent way.”—Cheryl Burgess
Innovative companies already understand this powerful concept and operate a “social business” model. Simply stated, a social business harnesses the power of its employees and partners, as well a the wider community to reach out and engage outside communities in evangelizing the brand.
But not every organization may have the resources and support to transform their company overnight.
To get started, an employee advocacy tool to empower internal advocates (a.k.a. employees as brand ambassadors). By creating a positive internal work culture and providing an easy way for employees to share that culture on their personal social channels, you’ll set them up for success. Remember that having social media guidelines can remove uncertainty about posting about their employer. If you share the messages that you’re interested in spreading, empowered employees will often help with broadcasting duties. An employee ambassador program can benefit a business exponentially, as your colleagues are likely influencers to friends, family, and their wider community.
Another approach is having a cross-departmental social team advocate and partner cross-functionally to educate and empower internal teams in the social realm. This team can create a bridge and identify someone in each department to work with to support the adoption of business goals and strategy that support engagement on social channels. Since this team will be from across the organization, the implmentation rate of the initiative should be quick.
Don’t forget that the C-Suite, the E-Team, a.k.a. The Head Honchos need to be active on social networks. Executives are seen as extensions of their company; their personal brand is seen as an only slightly different than that of the company’s. It’s a testament to the power of social media that a CEO’s likability is correlated with that of the brand. So, whether you decide to hire a specialist in influencer marketing to manage the executives’ accounts or train them in-house on social channel best practices, it’s vital that a company’s leadership is visible on social. For an example of CEOs who excel on social, see how Oprah Winfrey (Harpo) and Richard Branson (Virgin) do it.
Getting every interested employee on a social network in the interest of promoting a company’s public brand is a no-brainer, but what can social offer those less interested in social broadcasting?
Other departments that can make their way into social aren’t as straightforward but have significant opportunities for positive business impacts.
For example, a Human Resources team needs to know and understand LinkedIn for posting, promoting, and assessing brand sentiment. They need to visit company review sites like Glassdoor and Salary.com, as well as recruiting platforms like Indeed.com and social networks like AngelList. Understanding the digital HR-space means engaging with new employee prospects, eventually utilizing the platform for networking with colleagues and keeping up on best practices for HR on social platforms.
Other groups with an opportunity to get better at what they do with the help of social media are the Product, Research and Development, Business Development, Customer Experience, and UX teams. One can count on social as a tool for listening to users’ pain points, product suggestions, not to mention as a channel for gathering data to determine overall product sentiment, and possible future product or service development. It’s a great opportunity for engaging, understanding, and helping to develop services or products.
Moving towards a truly social business affords your brand an opportunity to transform internal and external culture. It’s a chance to make an impact in your industry. However, if you don’t have leadership buy-in, limited financial and time resources, then a cross-functional approach might make more business sense. It’ll take some elbow grease, but once you start successfully empowering non-comms teams, other departments will follow suit. True social cross functionality will not only increase public brand perception but will also incur business benefits throughout an organization.