By Alicja Gados

 Social media is an important component of your online marketing strategy. The importance of this has become quite obvious over the years.  Often, a few employees are dedicated to managing the social media marketing, but did you know that for optimum success in social media it’s very important to have your staff involved?

Integrate your social media into your marketing message

Social media needs to be an integrated component of a business marketing strategy, and social media actions need to be undertaken with a clear customer objective. Without it, integration will likely be elusive and your customers won’t understand your marketing message.  What are you trying to say to engage your customers? Are they listening?

Social media are not freestanding tools and should be used in conjunction with your currently existing marketing strategy. When social media is integrated, the management of both customer and brand assets is seamless and unambiguous.

Social media has the same goals as traditional media: to generate brand, product or company awareness. If awareness is your company’s goal, your marketing team should understand what happens after social media is used to generate this awareness: to convert the awareness to purchase intent.  One really important avenue for communication of your company’s marketing message is to employ those people who are immersed in your company every day: your staff. Your staff know your business best, and if your organization is social in nature to begin with, will be able to relay your companies brand message very clearly.

Involve your staff

Your staff needs to be involved in order for your social media marketing strategy to blossom to it’s full potential. Generally, a few people, either within the organization or outside of it (like an agency) manage your company’s social media presence.  But it’s important that other staff members, those not directly involved with either social media or marketing, participate and are encouraged to use social media to promote your organization as they understand the company’s marketing message best.  

We suggest that you don’t force your staff to share content; that is, it’s not a mandatory requirement. Instead, encourage them to share content that fits in with their friend network and interests. Sharing should be natural, encouraged and your staff should feel like they can take their own initiative (provided it fits in with the companies marketing message, of course). 

Here are a few suggestions how your staff can get involved:

1.     Natural interest and fit. Get your staff to contribute in areas that they show interest or fits with in naturally with their friend network. People are more inclined to post things that resonate with their peer group.

2.     Work events. This is a really good opportunity to share experiences from work culture and promote the company.  Encourage your staff to share photos or videos of great experiences they’ve had at work. This can be a company function, lunchtime or simply a great meeting, or something humorous.

3.     Encourage mentions.  Encourage staff to always mention your social media presence to customers.  Simply mentioning, “have you seen our facebook page?” or “do you know we share our promotions/coupons on twitter?” is a great way to spread the word about your company’s social media presence.

4.     Use of hashtags. We know that hashtags help sort and organize relevant content into one easy to find place.  When sharing content relevant to your company, be sure to ask your staff to use your product or brand hashtags along with the content they are sharing. 

The importance of social media can’t be overstated.  Social media users feel that consumer ratings are the best sources of product information, and most people are likely to rely on brand recommendations from friends, rather than directly trusting a company’s direct marketing.

Social media is a conversation-style marketing tool

Social media type conversation marketing transform brands like no other communication avenue has ever done.  This is because it primarily changes the fundamental nature of the customer to brand relationship.  The relationship has become very personal. But because the marketing is very personal, it’s difficult, and can be expensive, to develop.  You need to achieve economies of scale somehow from these personal one-to-one relationships. 

It’s important to balance your expertise between in house and the external agency, if you are using one, to manage your social media presence.  Because social media technology and strategy is such a quickly evolving niche, many companies outsource their social media needs to external agencies since these agencies are in touch with the latest developments and strategies.  But it’s important not to export all your social media to a third party and remain involved in some way using your staff as brand ambassadors through this medium. It’s a great way of keeping your company engaged in the process.