Small Business Tip Tuesday: 7 Ways Your Employees Can Enhance Your Online Presence

by Ken Mueller on January 31, 2012 · 15 comments

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300px Revision 3%27s Friday afternoon staff meeting Small Business Tip Tuesday: 7 Ways Your Employees Can Enhance Your Online Presence

When a business decides to become more social online, it’s often done in a bit of a vacuum. One of two things usually happens:

  1. someone in management or ownership creates the social presence, but fails to communicate that to employees.
  2. an employee is given permission to create the social presence, yet no one else pays attention.

The result of this is confusion. Not everyone is on the same page. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. The first of those two options is often the result of a mentality that

social media is important, and we don’t want to bother the rank and file with details

Inherent in that kind of thinking is that your employees just might not be smart enough or savvy enough to worry or think about these things. There might also be fear involved.

The second of those two options often stems from the mentality that

I guess we need a social presence so I’ll let so and so take care of it so I don’t have to be bothered.

Inherent in this kind of thinking is that social media really isn’t all that important, and you’re merely giving it lip service.

But the fact is, most businesses that are engaging socially online, are doing it piecemeal. Someone internally is usually unaware or left out in the cold. But we really need to have a concerted effort that involves everyone.

Think of it this way: your employees, all of them, have a vested interest in the success of your business. If the business does well, they do well, and there is less chance of layoffs, and maybe even a greater chance of a bonus or raise. I would also guess (hope) that your employees and their families talk about your business. Hopefully in a positive way. Hopefully the fact that they work there is enough to bring some of their friends through your doors. It’s all part of the word of mouth equation.

You need to make sure that all of your employees are aware of all your activity online. Let them know whether or not you’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Foursquare. Do they know you have a blog? But in addition to making them aware, you need to get them involved.

Here are 7 ways you can have your employees become a greater part of your online social presence. Some of these might even be written in to their job descriptions, while others are best left as voluntary, but you should encourage them to be involved since it’s good for the business.

1) Like your Facebook page – I use Facebook as the example, but what I really mean here is that they should connect with you on any platforms where possible. If they are on Twitter, they should follow your business Twitter account. Same goes for other platforms. I’m always surprised when a company has a Facebook page and their employees don’t even “like” it. Do they even know it’s there? Have they been asked or encouraged to like it? An all staff email or mention in a staff meeting might be all it takes, explaining why it’s important.

Note: Sometimes employees and others avoid liking their business page out of misplaced fear. I completely understand why employees and bosses might not want to connect as friends on Facebook, but this is different. Liking a business page gives no one, including your employers, any more access to your personal information than they already have. There is no need to worry.

2) Share your information – Teach your employees that social media is no different than what goes on in the brick and mortar walls of your business on a daily basis. If you introduce a new product or service, they will most likely be talking about it. Teach your employees that when you post that information on Facebook or Twitter, they can help by sharing, liking, retweeting, etc. Again, it’s word of mouth. Every social action adds up and your employees should be proud to share what your business is sharing. If you blog, have them use the +1 button, or share to other platforms. This is a very simple and quick way that they can help your business.

3) Comment – Whether it’s on your blog or social platforms, encourage your employees to comment…but sparingly. The most important thing here is to be open about who they are. If they comment on your blog or Facebook, they should also reveal that they are employed by your company. I hate when I see someone from a business commenting on their own Facebook page as if they are merely a satisfied customer. Just. Don’t. Do. It. It’s deceptive, and if someone finds out, you lose credibility.

4) Contribute content – Perhaps your employees have areas of expertise or different points of view that might make them valuable contributors to your blog. One of my clients is a salon & spa. Each of their stylists and other employees have certain things for which they are known. We’ve identified them and will be having them be a part of the blog writing team. One might write more about makeup, while another might write about eco-friendly health and beauty tips. Identify which of your employees would be able to help create content. This has the added value of taking all of the burden off of your shoulders.

And if they aren’t ready or willing to write blog posts for you, encourage them to come up with ideas. All of your employees see and hear things that would make for good content on either a blog or Facebook. Encourage them to share those ideas with you, some of which might be the result of their interactions with customers. They can also tell you about interesting events or articles which might be good content fodder to share on Facebook.

5) Read your blog – If your business is blogging, chances are that the only employees who read the blog are the ones involved with creating the content. Encourage all of your employees to read the content you produce. It will help them stay on top of what you are doing, and give them great conversation starters with your customers. Some of those customers might even be there as a result of your blog or social content, so your employees need to be prepared to talk about it.

6) Talk it up – One big mistake that businesses often make is that they create social spaces, and then never tell anyone about them. There is no “if you build it, they will come” in social media. Whether you’re blogging, or using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or any other platform, do everything you can to let your customers know. A big part of this is equipping your employees to talk about it. They should be telling your customers about your blog or Facebook page. There’s no shame in having them encourage your customers to write a review on Yelp or Facebook. They can remind your customers to check-in on Foursquare or Facebook. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

7) Connect with one another – As I mentioned earlier, I can understand why some employees and bosses might not want to connect “socially”. To a degree. But there are ways of connecting without actually becoming “friends”. I’m a big proponent of using Facebook’s group platform to create a private network for your employees. It’s rare that all employees are in one location at the same time, and when they are, they are working. An informal group page for your business gives you a chance to connect with your employees at any time. You can use this as a great way to create a culture of collaboration and allow your employees to offer their suggestions.

One final note: No matter how you go about this, or how many of these you choose to implement, you should make sure that you have a solid social media policy in place for your business. This not only protects you and your employees, but offers sound guidelines while encouraging their participation.

What are some other ways you can encourage your employees to get involved?

 Small Business Tip Tuesday: 7 Ways Your Employees Can Enhance Your Online Presence
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13 comments
Shonali
Shonali

Amen, Ken. I've always believed that employees are your biggest brand ambassadors... if you empower them to be so. One thing I started doing early on (when I had the authority to do so), was create talking points, especially if they were about a new campaign, just as we would for the media, bloggers, etc. I always asked that these be shared with employees FIRST - there's nothing like generating internal excitement before a campaign goes live. And when I ran the Communication department at the ASPCA, I did the same thing; particularly if we were launching something big, I'd share the 4-1-1 with the managers and ask that they in turn shared them with their staff (including any caveats such as not talking about it externally before the launch date, and so on, if necessary). It was amazing how invested people got in what we were doing and how much more charged up they were about their work.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Team work within your organization is paramount to quickly establishing an engaged social community.

Thanks Ken!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

There is almost nothing that drives me more crazy than helping clients with their social strategies and no one within their organization does anything with them. We have two clients who blog and they've never asked their employees to subscribe and read (against all of our counsel). That makes me absolutely nuts.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shonali I really think a lot of business owners don't trust their employees, or look down on them. I hear that a lot, and to me, that's a problem. When someone says they don't trust their employees to use social media, and fear that they will fritter away their time online, that's not an employee problem. That's a hiring problem. It's a culture problem. Who hired them? How are you training them? What's the culture of your business. I have one client that is a chain of 20 restaurants. They do a great job of including all employees in the business process, and really do a lot to incentivize with a lot of internal promotions and giveaways. It really isn't that hard.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Mark_Harai Businesses usually understand the concept of team work in the "real world" but unfortunately they don't do a good job of taking that team work online. That needs to start happening more often.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich Exactly. It's like it's a big secret. Everyone in the organization needs to be at least aware, if not involved in some way.

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