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?