How to Cultivate a Company-Wide Social Media Culture

    by Allyson Galle

    Date

    June 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    PNNL   Pacific Northwest National Laboratory intermediate

    The workplace as we once knew it -- post-it notes, memos, fax machines -- that's all gone. Today, it's all digital, baby.

    Gone are the days when it was innovative to have a website. And creating a Facebook page for your business is no longer an advanced social media strategy. In fact, now that social media has picked up steam in its conquest of the digital realm, the companies coming out on top are not just those that send out some pre-scheduled tweets; the successful companies actually adapt their entire corporate culture to our social media-oriented world.

    Some companies have found the transition to a social media culture easy, especially those which have already integrated social media  into their marketing strategy. But for many others, it's confusing and uncharted territory. If the latter sounds like you, we're here to help! In this post, we'll present you with some suggestions on how to create and cultivate an active, healthy social media culture in your office. 

    1) Establish a social media policy for your company.

    Before your company begins actively cultivating a social media presence within the office, it's important to establish some boundaries and guidelines in the form of a social media policy . This shouldn't be overly restrictive if you're aiming for a social media-positive office. For instance, HubSpot's own social media policy is very simple: social media use is encouraged and expected, and as a result, employees have no need to feel secretive about their accounts or separate their personal social media presence from their corporate presence. What benefits do we reap as a result? Our reach is extended by hundreds of thousands!

    Of course, this can't be the case for all businesses; some have stringent legal requirements to which they must adhere, or simply work in an industry where extreme care is required. Take a company like IBM, for instance -- their social media policy details what type of information can and cannot be shared with the public via employees' social media accounts. They balance that, however, by officially encouraging their employees to share new ideas via social media and even use a more casual voice in their writing to make their correspondence seem more human. If you're just starting out creating a social media policy for your company, take a look at this blog post highlighting five noteworthy examples of corporate social media policies. It should help get your brain chugging!

    2) Incorporate social media training into your regular employee training.

    You're already training your employees on other job-related duties; why not incorporate social media training, too? After all, if social media is going to become a part of your office culture (and their jobs), it needs to be established immediately. This is your chance to make it clear to your employees that they are encouraged to maintain an active social media presence over a variety of channels.

    Your social media training should include both tactical and strategic content. Teach your employees not only how to set up and use their social media accounts (if they don't already have them, that is), but also why using them is important. Teach them about what type of content is good to post, how to increase their social media reach, and of course, review your corporate social media policy with them. Some of this may seem remedial to you, but remember that some employees will be entering the office with a greater understanding than others, so catering to various levels of competency is important to the success of the training. You may also consider implementing a reverse-mentoring social media training program in which younger, more social media-savvy employees train less experienced employees on the basics of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like.

    Even if your company's demographic already skews younger and thus likely more naturally inclined towards social media, ensure that you've appointed someone specific to keep afoot of the latest trends and emerging social networks. You never know when the next Pinterest will come along, and you'll want to have a point person to tell you whether it's worth your time , and if so, how to use it.

    3) Lead by example.

    If you're actively encouraging your employees to play on social media, you can't be sitting on the sidelines. Your personal social media accounts should be public, associated with your company via your bios or 'About Me' sections, and public. Your employees will look to you for cues regarding what's acceptable and encouraged within their updates, and so your personal posts must strike the balance you strive for your employees to create. Most importantly, you need to be frequently sharing personally- and company-created content that's relevant to your industry and brand. All of these things will have the additional benefit of improving your company's reach and social presence at no additional cost to you.

    In order to make your content sharing tendencies par for the course, social sharing tools like HubSpot's social media tool and GaggleAMP  are incredibly useful for creating a pool of content for you and your employees to share socially. It encourages the content sharing culture, makes content sharing easy (simplicity is key to adoption), and teaches employees that the promotion of work-related content isn't out of place on personally-branded social media accounts.

    4) Integrate social media with events.

    Part of employees' jobs is surely networking and attending events -- sometimes even events you host. Making social media par for the course in these scenarios is just one more way to reinforce the expectation that your employees are active on social media, even when they aren't at the office. Plus, it helps your employees meet new people via social media that could be beneficial contacts for your business.

    When hosting events, for example, you should publicize a hashtag for the event and encourage everyone to tweet about the event using that hashtag -- if you aren't familiar with Twitter hashtags, check out this post to learn everything you need to know. You can also leverage location-based check-ins for your own events; if you've ever attended a HubSpot User Group meetup, you know what this looks like. Employees and guests alike check in on Foursquare when they arrive at our Cambridge, MA office, and share their presence with their followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook.

    Employees should of course be using event hashtags, company Twitter handles, and location-based check-ins at events other organizations host, too.

    5) Integrate social media into your website.

    You know what website people in your company visit all the time? Yours. To create a social media culture, companies must use positive reinforcement to display their dedication to and reliance on social media as a business tactic every chance they get. One of the simplest ways to do this is include social sharing buttons and social follow modules all over your website -- and hey, you'll be reaping the benefits of increased content reach, site traffic, and lead generation, too. But think about it ... if your employees see that you actually want others to share your content and follow you on social media networks, then your employees will actually do it.

    6) Share data that proves your social media success.

    You know all that reach stuff we always talk about? And how companies should integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy? Turns out, it actually works ... but there's no way anyone knows that if you don't quantify it with actual data. Specifically, there's no way your employees will be convinced that they should share your company's content on social media until you show them that their efforts are actually moving the needle. So go ahead, brag about how many leads you generated through social channels and your blog; share the visit-to-lead conversion rate of those social leads, as well as the lead-to-customer conversion rate; you can even show the growth of your reach on each social media network. All of these metrics are a reflection of not just your marketing team's efforts, but the collective effort of your employees, too. To learn more about the metrics you should use to prove the ROI of your social media efforts, check out our ebook, How to Unlock the ROI of Your Marketing With Analytics .

    7) Make your customer service social.

    Think of all of your employees on the front of the lines, talking to customers on a daily basis There's a unique opportunity to reinforce the importance of social media and actually get employees involved in it during their day-to-day jobs when you integrate your social media accounts with your customer service strategy. This comes with its own set of challenges , of course, but the benefits you'll reap are well worth the effort. Remember, your customers will be taking to social media to air their grievances whether you're there or not; make it easy for people at your company to interact with them via social channels! Integrating social media into your customer service strategy will reaffirm your dedication to creating a social media-focused company culture, and give your employees a structured way to get involved, too.

    But interacting with customers on social media doesn't need to end with your customer service team -- anyone can get in on the game. Social media is a powerful channel for collecting positive reviews, and your marketing strategy needs some testimonials in its arsenal! In fact, 72% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations according to Search Engine Land . Encourage employees to send along things like positive reviews on Yelp!, tweets about the quality of your content that can be embedded on landing pages, and LinkedIn reviews they've encouraged leads and clients to craft. You can even incentivize the collection of these reviews to encourage employees to be actively involved in generating positive social buzz. And of course, you can reference this guide to accumulating awesome online reviews for your business if you're interested!

    What have you done in your office to create a culture more supportive of active social media use?

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