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Social Media Success Requires Cultural Commitment and Brand Stewards

There are few, if any, subjects on earth that don’t evoke people’s desire to know the secrets to success. We’re always seeking out case studies, best practices, how-to tutorials and strategies for making our endeavors turn out in our favor. In fact, some among us will go to great lengths to ensure that our projects succeed. Within the marketing realm, we’re going to great lengths to ensure that social media succeeds for us. However, I think that there’s something largely out of our control that’s hindering the success of some organizations.
Social Media Success Requires Cultural Commitment and Brand Stewards image customer engagement
Internal Brand Stewards – Your Best Social Media Practitioners

For years we’ve included “change management” as part of our 12-step social media strategy process. I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that by sharing the best practices for getting change (i.e. becoming a more social brand) to stick in an organization, it would yield greater success with social media. Now, make no mistake, it certainly has and we’ve seen the results first hand. However, there’s more to it.

Since day one of writing social media and thought leadership marketing strategies, I’ve recommended that brands involve the real “stewards of the brand,” as we call them, in executing the strategy. Meaning, simply, that your employees are a critical component of your overall social media success. Who better than your brand stewards to help your social media flourish?

Simple to say, but not always easy to do. What happens when X% of your employees are either not engaged, or worse, actively disengaged from the brand? What happens when X% of your workforce simply does not care about the success of your marketing efforts?

Do They Speak in Terms of “We” or “They”

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Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, spent a lot of time visiting different businesses and talking with the employees. “When they used the word ‘they,’ I knew that it was one kind of business,” said Reich. “When they used the word ‘we,’ I knew it was a whole other kind of business.”

Similarly if we find a lot of ‘They’ speak in an organization, we often also find trouble in getting social media to take hold and to get the internal brand ambassadors aligned. We ask questions about strategy, what business the company is in, relationship with leadership, and so forth to get an idea of whether we’re dealing with a ‘we’ or ‘they’ company. Further, we find that employee engagement is a leading indicator of how successful social media marketing will be within an organization.

Employee Engagement – The Elephant in the Room

Social Media Success Requires Cultural Commitment and Brand Stewards image employee engagement

According to Gallup, the de facto authority on the state of employee engagement in the US, 59% to 65% of US employees are not fully engaged in their work.

Translating this to social media, when you roll out a social media strategy, you’ll hear responses like this:

  • Social media? You’re kidding, right? I already have too much to do and this is just one more thing…
  • Content? What would I say? I don’t even update my own Facebook page, let alone have time for the company.
  • Be a fan? Of who? Our company? No way am I going to be a fan of our company. I don’t want your stuff showing up in my news feed?

If you’re rushing down the path toward social media greatness (or thought leadership greatness for that matter) and you don’t have the level of engagement you need from your employees, your social media success will suffer.

Internal Brand Stewards – Your Best Social Media PractitionersSecuring Engagement in Social Media

This is a much, much bigger topic than we can handle in a weekly newsletter, but suffice it to say, Gallup, and others, have spent years studying what makes for engaged employees and I want to offer up just a few things that we’ve seen work to boost employee engagement to achieve greater success with social media.

Here are factors that support engagement at work:

  1. A clear understanding of how an individual’s efforts are linked to the company’s goals and strategic direction.
  2. Recognition and positive reinforcement for work well done.
  3. A belief that the organization listens to them.
  4. Being accountable for the work they “own.”
  5. Feeling stretched and challenged.

Think about your organization? How can you translate the employee engagement factors into social media engagement and success?

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