Avoiding “Multiple Personality Disorder”

imagesSocial media is intimidating for many companies, especially those who are considering it but don’t yet have a strategy in place.

So, you can imagine the reaction I got from a few of my executive friends when I tweeted about “empowering the whole company” with a voice on social media. (This was based on a webinar with experts at Dell and Zendesk, who have unleashed measureable results via social media for their respective companies.)

They asked: “how do you control the message?”

They fear “multiple personality disorder,” or having too many “official” people speaking on behalf of their brand, which could lead to potentially conflicting or reputation-damaging messages.

I understand their fear; but we need to face the reality. Why and how we communicate has changed. Conversation about a company can be happening anywhere and at any time. The company “spokesperson” simply can’t manage all of these conversations, and in many cases, isn’t the right person to either.

Employees are a company’s biggest ally, advocate and ambassador. Tapping into this source can build credibility, authenticity and genuineness for your brand.

To get you started, here are five ways to incorporate employees in your social media strategy:

1.  Set policy and standards. This is an essential first step. Clearly articulate how, when and why employees can be on social media under the company brand. If possible, engage them in actually establishing the policy and standards in the first place.

2.  Train your people. This can be done formally through training sessions and certification on the policy or informally through a company-wide message about social media use. It depends on the size and culture of your organization.

3.  Showcase employees’ expertise. If empowering your whole organization on social media is out of the question, create specific opportunities. For example, allow your internal experts—whether a developer, planner or finance person—to hold a Twitter or live chat, be a guest blogger on the company blog or host a webinar.

4.  Keep track of conversations. Monitor and track what employees are hearing/saying. Develop a simple logging process so that employees can record their interactions and feedback. Review this log weekly or monthly, depending on the level of activity, to identify trends, opportunities and issues.

5.  Act on what you learn. Employees may have just provided invaluable insights and intelligence about existing, new and future markets; or better yet, helped you build these markets. Make use of this intelligence in your business plans.