How To Calm Employees Into Social Media

August 26, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Social Media

I’ve read hundreds of articles on how to corral your employees in social media. Posts on how to make sure they don’t reveal too much, waste too much time, or annoy people to the point that customers hate you. However, all that assumes that your employees and your team are comfortable stepping into social media and that they WANT to be there. It doesn’t account for the people who aren’t. The people who are fearful of the new tools, of casting bad light on the company they work for, or, even worse, accidentally getting themselves fired. While attending CapitolCamp here in Albany last week I was reminded that not every employee is socially-savvy and dreams of waking up to 15,000 Twitter followers. Some are still coming to the terms with the idea that our job means engaging with people in a brand new way. Some are absolutely terrified.

If you’re responsible for a team skeptical of social media, how do you calm their fears? How do you comfortably bring employees into the social media mix so that they see it as an opportunity instead of something that may get them fired?

Here’s a roadmap.

Remove the Barriers

If you want to create a habit of socialness and collaboration, you need to remove the barriers to that behavior. And there may be many of them. For example, a barrier to a staff member using Twitter may be their having to learn to use tools like Tweetdeck to monitor it. By removing that obstacle and showing them how interact with Twitter via saved RSS feeds, something they’re more confident with, you help them step over that barrier. Or maybe the barrier is that there’s not enough time in their day to learn social media and fulfill their other job responsibilities. By re-assigning tasks or allowing them to tweet after hours on business accounts, you can remove that barrier. Every team will find that they have different barriers inhibiting their success. The trick is to understand the behaviors that are preventing them from being successful and then re-train or accommodate them.

Focus on One Network

To get employees comfortable in taking the leap and creating a culture of being social, allow them to focus on just one network to start. Pick whatever network you think will allow you to best connect with your audience and start there. Do not have a social media novice immediately create a presence on every channel available. That’s how you’re going to intimidate and scare the bejesus out of them. By focusing on one tool you allow them to really master it and to push it to the limits. You give them an opportunity to become an expert at that one channel. The result of this is two-fold:

  • When you really learn a tool, you can learn to hack it to find your own success instead of copying everyone else.
  • You limit your newbie mistakes to one channel instead of repeating them all over the social Web, ensuring that ALL of your customers spot them.

Give your employees time to find their social media legs before you throw them to the wild. It’s much better that they establish themselves on a network then to create a bunch of presences you’ll have to rework once they know what they’re doing.

Give Them Guidelines For Interaction

While at CapitolCamp I spoke to a business owner who prided himself in letting employees figure out social media on their own. He didn’t create a rulebook because he didn’t want them to feel “restricted”. It’s possible I winced when he told me this. Realize that your employees are looking to you for how they should be engaging. They want clear and written guidelines so that they can refer to them in times of trouble and so that they have a blueprint for how interactions are supposed to go. When you plot out on a new adventure, you bring a map, a compass or some other tool to help you find your way. The same applies to social media. By giving them a social media rulebook to follow, you help them make the right decisions for your brand. Your rulebook serves as their life preserver in the waters of social media. Have that social media talk and then follow it up with a written plan of action.

Create an In-House Resource

One great way to help your employees feel comfortable using social channels is to create an internal resource or Wiki that they can refer to when they have a concern or that they can use to share experiences with other employees. Let this Wiki serve as the hub for the company’s social media policy and be turned into an outlet where employees can ask questions, find education links to outside resources or simply study up on internal guidelines. Giving your employees a place to go to talk about their frustrations and pick up new tricks helps them to feel like the master of their own destiny. In the spirit of removing barriers, make this resource accessible from their home computer so that they can study it in an environment where they feel more comfortable and where they’re not being rushed to get their other work done. People want to learn new skill sets and master new marketing techniques. You just have to give them the resources to do so.

Highlight Real-Life Examples

How do you cure a skeptic? You show them real-like examples of campaigns that worked, cultures you admire, or successes that will teach and inspire them. We all work better when we have model for what we’re doing. Let them see the rewards of social media to not only give them an example of how these tools can be used, but as proof that they work and can bring rewards. Pick cases where you can show ROI and that there’s a reason to all this madness. Concrete evidence gets people on board much faster than rainbows, puppies and cupcakes ever will.

Those are some ways we’ve helped nervous teams get on board with social media. What would you need to calm your fears? Or have you cured others?


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