How savvy is your employer on social media? Has it staked out a strong social presence in cyberspace, or is it more like a meandering social dinosaur in Jurassic times?
Today’s modern companies should know by now that embracing social media contributes to business success in the 21st century Digital Age. Here’s why: Strategically leveraging social media can lead to increased profits, customer loyalty, and trust, among a range of other business benefits (listed below).
Implementing a smart social strategy simply makes good business sense.
This is especially true when considering the change in labor force demographics with younger generations increasingly entering the workforce. Couple that with the hyper-paced changes in new and evolving mobile, digital and virtual technologies which are now part of everyday life. That’s why one of my many “business priority recommendations” is leveraging social media on a diverse range of platforms.
No company should want to alienate the best potential young talent from being recruited and hired because they don’t want to work for a company with antiquated business practices.
No company should want to be known as a social media dinosaur at the dawn of a new millennium. Furthermore, no company should want to alienate the best potential young talent from being recruited and hired because they don’t want to work for a company with antiquated business practices.
Benefits of Being “Social”
Social media (or “social” for short) has proven to be an invaluable asset to countless companies regardless of whether they are large, small, mid-sized or even “mom and pop” establishments. The many benefits of adopting an effective social strategy include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Increasing sales and profits – as well as website traffic.
- Enhancing recruitment and hiring of the best available talent.
- Fostering transparency while building a bigger consumer base.
- Improving customer relations, consumer diversity, loyalty, and trust.
- Bolstering a company’s important brand image and reputation.
- Contributing to effective crisis communication by containing any PR fires before they become viral conflagrations.
These are just a few of the many reasons why beefing-up social media should be a business imperative in the year ahead. But some old-school employers still don’t get it. These social media dinosaurs fail to comprehend the basic premise and benefits of smart social strategies. The sorry result: missing potential business opportunities which inadvertently go to the socially savvy competition. Further, some companies that have established a social presence still lag in proactively leveraging multiple platforms, including non-traditional ones. This is important to increase the consumer base and reach the broadest audience on a national, regional or global level.
No One-Way Street
Companies should not be on social media just for the sake of it. To the contrary, any business first needs to adopt a smart social media plan with well-defined goals and objectives to obtain the best return on investment (ROI). There are various online analytic tools to accurately measure and improve upon social ROI.
It’s important to recognize that social media is not a one-way street. There’s much more to being social than merely getting your company’s message out.
The real key can be summed up in one word: Engagement.
Being social in cyberspace is all about engaging with customers to improve their overall business experience and keep them coming back. Your social media game plan should be based on the popular saying: Help me help you!
But how? This occurs by strategically leveraging social media to solicit and respond to consumer questions, concerns, and complaints in an effective and expeditious manner. That means being more conversational and using less boilerplate jargon or legalese. However, companies should make sure to vet any social media plans with legal counsel before moving forward, as social media case-law is still in its infancy.
What Customers Want
Being social is important to consumers because they want to feel needed and valued when they open their wallets. Customers want to know that their personal opinions count and are being heard – whether good or bad. While this may sound simplistic to the C-Suite, being social is far more nuanced than posting product pictures or tweeting press releases. All Fortune 500 companies, for example, should have some type of social media team by now. Moreover, depending on the nature and scope of the business, some social media teams may need to work around the clock due to the globalization of online communication and commerce.
Listening to the Experts
To gain further insights into how organizations can best leverage social media in the year ahead, I spoke to a few experts in my network. Here’s what they told me:
Tracy Sestili, a social media author, speaker, trainer, and strategist, points out:
“Embracing social media will help businesses be much more nimble by focusing on real-time response, mobility, and personalization via private messaging and tailored, yet interactive, content. Social ROI for business or any organization is a bit vague. For Twitter ads and B2B technology companies, for example, a 0.6-1.2% engagement rate is the average and you should be aiming for that or higher.”
Two other experts, I spoke with recommend a bold approach of empowering employees to be goodwill social ambassadors for the company via their own personal networks. However, some employers may deem such a strategy as problematic due to lack of employee trust and lack of ability to control social media interactions. Nevertheless, this approach is worthy of further consideration and piloting. That’s the only way to ascertain if liberating employees on social media, as part of their jobs, raises ROI for the company — which translates into more sales and profit, among the other benefits.
Additionally, a new generation of young leaders are entering the workforce and will be climbing the corporate ladder in years and decades to come. Millennials and Gen Z don’t know a world without social media. Thus, companies need to maximize the expertise of more young people and place them in supervisory positions.
Denise Holt, CEO, and founder of Collaborative IQ, Inc., observes,
“Social media is the new marketing for human relationships. Employees have a powerful level of influence over their own audiences, and organizations have become aware enough to know that they can reach their customers through employee social media use — which is much better than traditional marketing avenues. There are so many benefits to mobilizing employees as a voice on behalf of the brand, which has everything to do with benefiting the employees and the company directly — including leadership development, retention, and engagement, plus positioning the company as a leader in their industry.”
Stephanie Frasco Clegg, Vice President of Social Media at the company, Convert With Content, concurs:
“Employee advocacy is a great way to engage your audience and different audiences within your audience. As each employee has their own network, by empowering them to spread the word for you, you’ll build yourself a mini-army that can reach more corners of the social web. If you want to attract great talent that’s engaged and active online, your business needs to be active and engaged. You’re the leader. Set the stage and make social media a top priority.”
So what do YOU think?
✅ Is YOUR company leveraging social media to the full extent possible or is it a social dinosaur in the digital age?
✅ Should employers allow workers to use their personal social networks on behalf of the company? What are the potential pitfalls with such a strategy?
✅ What general or specific results have YOUR company achieved, or failed to achieve, via leveraging social media?