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Social Media Should Be Embraced Through An Entire Organization

Organizations may have an individual designated as the Social Media Expert or Twitter Intern, but it's important for social media to be embraced at every level of the organization, even if not everyone is a guru. And here's why:

Everyone should understand at least the basics of social media

Social media marketing is expanding rapidly. A recent report by Forrester estimated that social media will grow 34% annually over the next 5 years. That's more than both mobile and email marketing. If the members of your organization don't understand at least the very basics of social media, you won't be able to keep up.

The best way for the less-than tech savvy people in your organization to get acclimated with this relatively new and ever-changing medium is to encourage them to participate in it. Not only will this prepare your company for the future but it will also have an immediate impact.

Social media keeps people in your organization creatively energized

You may think that Twitter and Facebook are just a waste of time but a recent article by Wired argues that social networks actually make employees more productive by stimulating the mind. Studies found that "regular breaks enhance problem-solving skills significantly, in part by making it easier for workers to sift through their memories in search of relevant clues."

Because social networks encourage participation and sharing, they may even be more valuable for enhancing creativity than regular breaks thanks to built-in incentives to entertain like Retweets.

Expanded social media means connecting with your customers, clients and prospects in more places

Each person who is participating in a social media environment is giving your organization another opportunity to both reach out to prospective clients as well as troubleshoot current customer issues as they happen. An amazing example of a successful company-wide embrace of social media is Best Buy's Twelpforce. Best Buy encouraged all of its employees to utilize Twitter for promotions and the company's online customer service. Employees could add the hashtag of #twelpforce to a tweet from their personal Twitter account and get credit for the customer service.

Whether or not your organization incorporates a specific strategy like 'Twelpforce', encouraging employees to participate in social media will expand the reach of your brand.

People inherently have different networks and more networks means spreading your message further

A social media guru may have 2000 followers on Twitter, 900 Facebook friends, and is a Super User on Foursquare, but it's likely all those connections are based on social media itself, and not on your product, brand or service. The connections that employees at every level of your company have made throughout their career are much more valuable and more diverse than that of a single user, no matter how popular.

That means a message will spread furthest when spread through every level of your organization and not just the PR and social media marketing segments.

"Entire Organization" does not mean "Everyone," there needs to be some order and structure

All social media was not created equal and some people are going to use Twitter more than Facebook, some are going to be more professional with LinkedIn, and some are going to get really excited about Google's new Buzz. That's okay. The key is to have participation at every level of the company and to be organized as a whole.

Ad Age wrote an article earlier in the week that discussed who should be in charge of the social media for a company, highlighting the dangers of keeping social media too centralized, not having a standardized practice, and lack of accountability.

Despite these dangers, encouraging social media and providing guidance can have an extremely positive immediate external and internal impact on your business as well as prepare it for the future of marketing.

Do you have any non-marketing people succesffuly using social media for you business?

Comments

Joel Sutherland's avatar
Joel Sutherland NMC team member

Alex,

This is a great post. I especially liked the second point and wanted to expand on it. Often those new to the idea social networking in a professional setting have a hard time seeing the value.

On the surface, it is perfectly understandable that employers confuse Facebook/Twitter/etc with a waste of time. After all, Facebook started so college kids could find parties to attend.

Once you are professionally engaged however, these networks become amazing tools to expand your domain knowledge. Your connections are all finding and sharing news and resources that they find valuable. Your network can be the ultimate "Trade Publication" -- making the perfect editorial decisions about what is interesting and important.

By following and connecting with the leaders of an industry it is possible to get the very best information at no charge.

James's avatar
James

I do not like this idea..

Ken's avatar
Ken

Having recently seen a handful of articles and posts about social media marketing, I get the impression organizations are struggling more with smartly incorporating it than they are with understanding its potential value. The question of how to extract the full benefit it offers seems to be a real stumbling block. It seems there's a lingering suspicion it's not being used as well as it should and, by default, there's waste or inefficiencies that need to be addressed. In addition, the challenges of using it seem different for small businesses than they are for larger ones.

Alex Pomer's avatar
Alex Pomer NMC team member

@Ken

In response to your last point of the different challenges of social media usage for small businesses verses larger ones, I think that small businesses have an inherently easier time incorporating social media into their marketing the 'right way' because there's likely less disconnect between different levels of employees.

Since social media is naturally more effective when it's more social, the luxury of low barriers between higher and lower positions of employment encourages inter-company participation more in smaller businesses.

In larger companies, it's more important to establish general rules and guidelines because accomplishing an overall social media presence consistent with the company's brand is more difficult with so many more people participating. That being said, the more people that are involved, the more the potential upside. The key is striking that balance between company personality and individual personality right by setting the correct guidelines in place initially.

Ashley Memory's avatar
Ashley Memory

Alex, great article. Love the idea of social media as an energizer -- never thought about it like that, but wow, the possibilities are amazing. Thanks for sharing and NMC, thanks for the great newsletter.

Alex Pomer's avatar
Alex Pomer NMC team member

@Ashley Glad you liked the article and picked up on the importance of recognizing that using social media is not a waste, even if what you're using it for is only tangentially related to your immediate work.

Keeping up with industry news by reading and sharing links from your social networks is a great way to keep the mind sharp by analyzing where your work fits in with the latest happenings in your field.

Thanks again for following the blog!

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