It takes a village … to succeed in social media

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By Megan Totka

Traditionally, the work of social media-profile development has fallen on PR departments. Over time, social media efforts morphed into a department of its own in companies that could afford the manpower and saw the financial potential of a vast mobile following. Decision makers from companies of all sizes know the extreme value of a strong social media presence.

Beyond web platforms

In November, Flurry Analytics released some telling numbers on the ways Americans are spending time using electronic mediums. In 2011, Americans spent 72 minutes per day web browsing and 94 minutes per day using mobile applications. Both activities were dwarfed by television consumption, which came in at 168 minutes per day. Though the year is not quite over, the numbers for 2012 show stagnancy in web browsing and television watching, but a jump to 127 minutes per day in mobile application use.

Over the past two years, the number of events completed within mobile apps has increased tenfold to one trillion, or 1,000 billion. An event is an action completed by a user inside an app, such as completing a game level, making a restaurant reservation or tagging a song. While not all of these apps are social media based, these numbers should be sobering to all companies. Engagement with the marketplace through mobile apps is becoming increasingly important.

Co-branding for all

Last month I talked about the perils of co-branded employees and gave some suggestions for companies that want to make the most of employees who already have an online following. Today, I want to take that a step further and encourage business leaders to make all employees a part of the social media and networking team. It takes some delegation, though, and business leaders are often reluctant to release social media control.

Digital marketing expert Charlene Li recently wrote about the shift that needs to take place in company leadership in order to take social media strategy to the next level. As terrifying as the prospect may seem for employers, they need to view their employees “not as potential social media time bombs that could go off without warning, but as engaged, proactive brand ambassadors.”

This is easier said than done, of course. Though all employees are required to read company policies and mission statements, not all subscribe to the same philosophies as company management and owners. Still, enabling all employees to act on behalf of a business in social media realms can have an exponential reach.

Lead strategically

That empowerment must come with company-led initiatives and guidance. Digital consulting company Altimeter Group found that businesses with more than 1,000 employees have an average of 178 social media accounts associated with their brands in some way. These accounts can fall into disrepair and non-use, or become a company hazard if left unsupervised. While there may not be a feasible way to regularly check each account and align it with company beliefs, businesses can at least get all employees on the right track. Start by consulting with the PR or social media employees who already know the online networking ropes and develop a strategy for greater employee involvement. If you own a small business and lack that sort of advisement, consider hiring a consulting company or PR professional to guide you toward an expanded social media initiative.

Develop a policy of do’s and don’ts when it comes to social media interaction but do not scare your employees away from the concept. Consumers and business partners are accustomed to the typical PR “spin” associated with company social media profiles; surprise those vital supporters with advice from customer-service representatives, administrative assistants and even warehouse workers. The scope of what each employee of a company can achieve through social media is still untapped at most businesses. Take advantage of the valuable networking resources right under your nose and improve the investment employees have in your company at the same time.

Image: Premier Social Media

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. Grow your business online with ChamberofCommerce.com, the most trusted online resource for all your business needs. Megan also edits local news in major markets.

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