How can you expect to engage customers and potential customers in social media if your own employees do not even help to create a dynamic social media environment? Many small business owners struggle to find time enough to properly engage with customers through social media. They set off with good intentions, set up profiles and create the first post and then. Nothing! To me this is quite understandable, but there are ways and means around this.
A Social Media Plan
The first element is to have some kind of social media plan. It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that all social media activity is a real time response and ad-hoc. It is not! The companies that are using social media most successfully have a solid, if not rigid, plan to post content of all forms. For most small businesses, something like Google Calendar works really well, as any plan created this way can be shared easily with colleagues and any relevant outside suppliers. (I am thinking photographers, video production companies, copy writers, graphic designers, web consultants etc).
Inform your employees why social media is so important to your company- and for their future employment. Then ask that all employees to get involved with the production of a plan. The plan does not have to be overly detailed, but it should set out key themes for the year. In more sophisticated companies, the social media plan will be intimately linked with the overall marketing plan. The plan should also detail who will actually make the posts or create the relevant content. The important thing is to stick to the plan. So, if in planning you decide you need to make three posts a day to your Facebook Business Page, you had better do it!
Who should Post?
The mistake that most small business owners make is assuming that only they have the knowledge or time to make relevant posts. The plain fact is that providing you trust your employees, anyone can make a contribution to your social media activity. The point is that there are several different types of Post. Even if we look at just one social media network say, Twitter, it is clear that a simple Re-Tweet of someone else’s relevant Tweet is a very simple activity that could be carried out by the moist junior member of your team- and yet this is one of the most important activities on Twitter. Other Tweets take a bit more thought or planning, but generally, your aim is to spread the production load amongst all your employees.
However, generally, the most important people to get involved with your social media effort are your “Experts”. All businesses large or small have “subject matter experts”. The Senior Electrician, Head Gardener, Head Chef or Chief Architect – it doesn’t matter. But to get them to contribute regularly takes the use of a bit of psychology! Typically, you are going to have to appeal to their egos. It is better to ask them for ideas – or better still to ask them to create ideas that can be used in your social media campaign. This way, you will find they are much more likely to step up. Note that if you choose to employee third party help with your social media activity, having a plan and several existing internal sources of material can make this much more productive collaboration.
Create an ideas expectation culture
What this means is that when you hire new employees or set out objectives or expectations of existing employees (whether in the factory, shop floor, office, work site or boardroom) insist that the creation of ideas is central. In other words, make it known that your employees are paid to think, as well as do. Not only will this make your social media production and subsequent customer engagement a much easier process, but your company is likely to benefit from new product ideas and cost saving developments to boot. If that s not a win-win, then I do not know what is!
Give everyone edit access to the company blog and a video recorder
At some level, no content is unworthy of posting to at least one of the major social networks. A poor quality video of an important event is just as relevant as the highly polished video production from your marketing department. Get your staff used to having photographs taken and of taking photographs during their working day. Ask your staff, suppliers and customers for quotes.
Over time you will find that some staff are just better creating Blog posts or creating videos. It does not matter. What does matter is that all employees understand the need to spread the load and to continually post new material in order to make sure the company is found in Google Searches and always has live and current material in all of its Social Media outlets.
Small businesses can be surprisingly good at out-competing their larger competitors with this simple approach. It is also great as a boost to employee morale. So why not give it a try?