How and Why to Drive Employee Adoption of Social Media
Many organizations still struggle to identify how to participate in social media. While a social media competitive analysis can help, it will not expose both the internal and external benefits for the entire organization.
A social media manager may be all you need to create and execute marketing programs. But can one person change the way your entire organization does business? Of course not. And this is exactly why it's critical to train every employee to understand this powerful tool while working in our highly connected economy.
Why Every Employee Should Use Social Media
Social media is not simply a business function in your organization, such as accounting or IT. It connects the fabric of your organizational values to the people in the market who choose to align with them. It exposes the organization for what it actually is, not what your traditional marketing campaigns tell consumers it is. It gives voice to a non-living entity. Social media is your business, personified.
With subject matter experts spread across many departments and divisions in a typical organization, information moves slowly, if at all.
With consumers expecting you to be at their beckoning call 24/7, someone must pay attention at all times.
With information traveling faster and further than ever before, your business must move quicker, be more knowledgeable, and communicate more efficiently.
These aspects of today's business environment require a lot of resources. By educating your workforce on the value and importance of social media, you can tear down silos to create harmony and efficiency across your organization like never before.
How To Drive Employee Adoption of Social Media
Driving employee adoption of social media is often made complicated by creating thick handbooks and deploying clunky tool sets that aren't necessary. You know what works? Old-fashioned human interaction and tools that are at your disposal today. It may not sound fancy, but it's true.
Here are four ways to engage your employees about social media effectively:
1. Face-To-Face Relationships
An executive for a Global 500 company once asked me, "What would you do in your first 90 days as a social media strategist?" My answer: "Spend time in as many people's offices as I can, getting to know their pain points and to gauging their attitude toward social media as a business tool."
I developed this answer after thinking about what I could have done better when I started my career in social media.
There is no substitute for strong personal relationships with employees across your organization when it comes to driving adoption of any new tool. Face time with employees gives you the information you need to understand how the organization operates, in what ways it struggles to operate, and how open employees are to change.
It also establishes you as the initiator of social media activities throughout the organization. Who do you think people are going to call when they have a question about social media, work related or not? You, because you have already invested in them.
Opening the social media dialogue on an individual level creates the connection you need to be an effective thought leader in the organization and will strengthen the interest and openness to organizational change.
As social media professionals, it's easy to forget that we know much more about social media than the average employee.
Work with your HR department to offer social media training. Start with the most basic information, including how to sign up for accounts on social media sites.
As the organization matures and beings to display a level of competency beyond 101 level information, slowly introduce more advanced topics that will help employees become self-sufficient users.
Never make assumptions about how much knowledge the typical employee has about social media, especially if you work for a legacy company that still employs an older generation.
3. Regularly Scheduled Events
Tweetups should be successful meetings in disguise. They attract a large number of people with a common interest to one place at the same time They not only connect employees who have never been connected before, but give you an opportunity to share helpful information with them.
Invite every Twitter user in your organization to attend, from the C-Suite down to the interns. Create or purchase name tags that feature each employee's Twitter username. Play some music in the background and have some finger foods available.
After allowing everyone to meet and greet, introduce yourself, explain what the purpose of the tweetup is, and take five minutes to train the group of employees on a simple technique they can use to improve their presence on Twitter.
Keep the atmosphere light and fun. As employees throughout the organization here about the event, they will want to be a part of the next one.
The exclusivity will pique the interest of employees who may typically be apathetic.
Let's face it: email is still one of the easiest and most effective ways to privately contact a large group of people.
Set up an email group for social media users across the organization. Create an initial list of email addresses that should be included (which you can acquire in step 1). Email the group, explain what the purpose is and how it will benefit them. Your purpose may be to share organizational social media initiatives with each other or to keep each other up-to-date on best practices.
Don't make it harder than it has to be. A simple text email with any necessary links will work just fine. Define the guidelines for contacting the list and let your employees utilize it as they feel, while curating and guiding the discussion. You will be surprised at how much helpful information is shared with employees across every business function of your organization.
If your organization is still in the infancy stage of using social media, then treat it that way. It may be frustrating for an advanced, strategic social media professional, but it is necessary to reach your final goal.
Measure employee adoption of social media over time to determine the success of your approach.