Tick placed in awesome checkbox on customer service satisfaction survey formWhen done correctly, social media in the workplace takes businesses to an all new level of success. Yet, while some organizations and CEOs embrace it – others fear it. As a matter of fact, concern over sharing the wrong information or that mistakes will be magnified are some of the reasons why over 70% of Fortune 500 CEO’s have no presence on social media networks according to a 2012 CEO.com Social CEO report.

But Debra Zimmer, founder of The Expert Marketing Coach, wants to dispel those fears by stressing a workable and viable business case for social media. Debra states that research shows 82% of people are more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage in social media. People are more likely to follow people in contrast to “faceless” organizations. Social media humanizes organizations!

Besides CEO visibility in social media, Debra would also like to see more employees interacting with consumers, partners, and clients through the sites. She suggests that employees embody the organization’s values and mission and undergo training, similar to how executives undergo media training before talking with the press.  Social media efforts should not be quashed in the workplace, but should be used to empower employees, improve retention, and attract qualified candidates to the workplace.

Internal social media communication on the rise in companies

Besides Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, another form a social media is being adapted to the workplace – enterprise social media. According to Paul Leonardi, a professor of communication at Northwestern University with appointment at the Kellogg School, internal tools providing company-wide social media access are making company communication more transparent. “Unless you were copied on an email between two employees,” says Leonardi, “you never knew that they were sending messages to each other. It wasn’t that the information didn’t exist, but it was invisible to most people in the organization.”

Leonardi reports that after six months those who used the enterprise social media networking site had improved their ability to find information by 31%—and to find people who knew the person with information by 71%. Tremendous strides in transparency by all accounts!

With external and internal social media avenues available to all businesses, large and small, there are some unexpected and promising results. Organizations welcoming social media are finding:

  • Reductions in inefficiencies company wide – especially companies with multiple locations and large staff. Information is readily shared and resources and talent are used more wisely.
  • Transparency on who coworkers and leaders are, their job functions, and their expertise within the organization.
  • Enhanced corporate visibility is attracting higher quality employment candidates. Like-minded candidates are naturally drawn to organizations that meet their goals, vision, and workplace culture.
  • Executive visibility is building trust among employees, customers, and partners while increasing the likelihood of consumer purchasing.
  • Increased communication levels with fewer misunderstandings on job duties, company vision, and branding.

The 5 Bs of Social Media include “Buy”

The progression of successful business branding in social media goes like this: Brand, Befriend, Broadcast, Buzz, and Buy. Of the 5 Bs, Zimmer would like to point out that in social media “buy” means to create a “call to action.”  A call to action can be as simple as signing up for a company newsletter, asking consumers to contact a rep offline for more information, or even prompting qualified job candidates to apply for a job.

Interacting on social media sites empowers employees to be a valuable spokesperson for their company. By teaching employees the art of “selling without selling”, employees can easily champion their organizations and build valuable connections and partners. Key employees would learn the skills to address consumer questions and provide insight and solutions.

Social media is not intended for high pressure sales tactics where the only goal is to sell something. This is a complete turnoff to consumers and partners alike. Relationships must be formed and trust built to be successful in social media. Debra Zimmer points out that one of the biggest mistakes most organizations make is that they focus all of their time and efforts on measuring sales or conversions. Social media success can be measured in many, many ways.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton

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