Promoting your business, protecting your brand, and pleasing your employees can be a difficult balance in social media.
Social media is in everyone’s job; social media IS everyone’s job. But not for free, not during personal time, and not without training.
If you ask any manager if they think social media is an important part of business, they will almost always say yes. Even if they don’t like it, even if they don’t understand it, they know it’s important to be online. Or that they can’t risk not being online. They know they have to be there and, thankfully, more and more companies are taking the plunge and investing the time and money needed to set up their social media profiles.
So why, after the investment of time and money, are they willing let their online reputations rest with a bunch of amateurs? Because that’s exactly what your employees are, no matter how much time they spend on Pinterest during their lunch hours.
And sometimes this is a great thing if they do indeed get the word out about the charity drive or the new grand opening. But what exactly are they supposed to do when a friend, a family member, or a follower who is completely unknown to them asks something like “Why are you supporting Charity X? They placed dead last in Money Sense’s survey of non-profit accountability?” Or what if a disgruntled former employee sees a post about your grand re-opening –and then goes on a tirade about how it’s nice there’s money for a makeover, but it’s a pity Company X was too broke to send flowers when she slipped and broke her leg on the uneven tiles?
This of course assumes that your employees’ personal accounts are structured in such a way that, when they share your message, it appears to be a sincere, genuine engagement. Social media success comes not from numbers and vanity metrics, not from the volume of retweets, but from the quality of the engagement. A lot of budding vegan chefs (with loyal online followings) work at non-vegan restaurants just to make ends meet. Some of them even work at steakhouses! Do you really want them to be sharing your content? At best, their followers will see it as a joke and start making fun of your restaurant. At worst, your employee-slash-budding chef will lose credibility and followers (which means you lose their loyalty and dedication).
One of the most slippery slopes in social media is how the line between personal and professional is blurred. Work is an important part of everyone’s life and is a critical part of some people’s identity. And people will inevitably post things that relate to their work life. But that is their choice, their time, their responsibility. And it’s the responsibility of their employer to have a social media policy that covers the personal/professional lines of both corporate and personal social media accounts.
But when you ask employees to share and interact with the corporate account for free, on their own time, you are showing disrespect for their worth and you are opening yourself up for a world of trouble.
A Conservative Party of Canada message to civil servants to promote the #StrongFamilies hashtag on Twitter saw virtually no engagement from the civil servants themselves, but plenty of tongue in cheek fun from the general public, who was resentful that the politically neutral civil service being asked to promote a partisan message. Within hours, #StrongFamilies was trending on Twitter, but for all the wrong reasons. Government ministers were asked why they weren’t paying child support. The hashtag was successfully hijacked to grill the Conservative Party about foreign policy, the environment, even the federal budget. Instead of receiving subtle boost of engagement from their employees, they were the butt of a nation-wide joke that is still going strong.
Next time you think you don’t have the budget for social media training, for a social media coordinator, for a social media content specialist, ask yourself how much money you’ve set aside for damage control. Chances are, you’ll find an ounce of prevention costs a fraction of a pound of cure.
Looking to turn your social media management over to the pros? Sculpt Social can help with that.