In the age of (over)sharing, it’s hard to keep employees from chatting with their online social circles about where they work. Even if you block those websites from corporate devices, there’s no way to keep them off of their own devices – a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend. Still, those 140-character rants or the photo of an office prank posted to Facebook can hurt or help a brand significantly. Look at how one video prank damaged the Domino’s pizza brand and landed two employees with felony charges. While this is an extreme case, it can cause a corporation to be sensitive and put strict social media policies into place that restrict employees from using social media at work, or discussing the brand on their networks.
Is this really the best policy though, especially when most brand experts would agree that employees are your best brand advocates? Instead of instilling fear in them if they even so much as mention the word Tweet, why not train them to help build a positive social presence via their person social networks? At Ariba, rather than restrict access, we decided to train employees on social sharing best practices. A lot of other companies are starting to do the same thing too, as they recognize the value in leveraging employees as brand advocates. And, let’s be honest, legal departments will rest easier knowing they don’t have to worry about a Domino’s-like scandal going viral.
Below are four steps that corporations should include when implementing an internal social media training series.
- Overview of Channels. Tweeting, Liking, Sharing, Posting – there’s a lot to remember. Employers need to educate their employees about what social networks exist and what is acceptable to share on which networks. Different strategies can be implemented for each network, such as asking all employees to “Like” the company Facebook page, or join a LinkedIn group.
- Social Selling. Are employees connected with customers or prospects through their social networks? Teach them how to effectively advocate for relevant solutions to those markets, while keeping the business pitch casual for these social groups.
- Writing for the Web. Teach employees how to write effectively. Thought leaders and subject matter experts may have great insights into their particular topic, but that doesn’t mean they know how to blog. There’s an opportunity to educate experts on Web writing 2.0 – concise, to the point, and with sharable sound bites.
- Everyone’s a Marketer. The fact is, employees help spread the word. Whether they consider themselves socially inactive online, or are Tweeting subject matter expert, they need to be educated on how they can help. This portion of internal training can largely focus on LinkedIn and how employees can help spread the word by letting everyone know they work at the company.
All of the training in the world doesn’t necessarily protect against employees spreading damaging content via their social networks. The key is to encourage open dialogue about what’s acceptable, and more importantly, what’s helpful for the brand. If employees are going to bombard their friends and families online anyways, why not have them do so in a manner that sheds positive light on the brand.