Have you ever worried that your employees will post something publicly that will cripple your brand and launch you into a social media crisis? If you have, you’re not alone.
With all this freedom of speech and “everybody’s a publisher” attitude that social media brings to the table, it’s an understandable fear, especially for companies who are new to the social media game.
The reality is that you’re left somewhat to the mercy of your employees and your customers. But focusing too much on the potential negative is what will refrain you from accomplishing the invaluable positive. When faced with this complex dilemma, you have two options before you:
Option #1: Let the fear set in, panic and set up rules and barriers that prohibit your employees to mention your brand online or access their social media accounts from your offices. Some companies have even been known to go as far attempting to have their employees sign some sort of contractual agreement.
Option #2: Sanely address your fears and hesitations, work through them, prepare a social media policy as well as a social media crisis policy and then set aside time to go through each guideline, policy and expectation with your staff.
It may seem as though it’s easier said than done, but option #2 is the only path that will allow you to reach your full online and social potential.
Understanding your fear
The fear and hesitations you may be feeling stem from a lack of understanding social media marketing and the opportunities it presents to your business. Let’s face it, if you’re too busy worrying and prohibiting, then you’re missing out on all the opportunities and strategic advantages it could be presenting to you. And guess what! It’s safe to bet that your competitors aren’t! They’re too busy leveraging the power of social media to be worrying about what their happy employees may or may not be saying about them online!
How to make their reality yours
In order to help you do the same, let’s forget about the negative possibilities because simply, you have to remember that you’ve chosen responsible adults to be a part of your team. Responsible adults whom you can trust to act as such (of course developing social media policies will remind them to do so), and that they’re happy employees who value both their job and the organization they represent.
Many times companies make unwise decisions based on fear and a lack of better judgement, and it’s purely these actions that launch them into the social media attack they feared in the first place. It makes sense when you think about it. If you have happy employees (which if you don’t then your fear may be justified, though your energy may be better spent elsewhere) then you don’t have to worry about them speaking negatively about your brand online.
However, if you choose to not trust your employees and present them with a contract or a direct order not to mention the organization online, well, now you’ve given them a reason to vent about their “irrational employer”, haven’t you?! And you can bet that in today’s world, this is an issue that bloggers and social media advocates alike will be interested in hearing about and shaking their heads to.
So where does the risk truly lie and how can you overcome this hesitation and leverage social media to your company’s fearless advantage?
Step #1: Discover what the power of social media is. What’s all the hype and craze about and how will a social media marketing strategy empower your brand? Doing your homework will allow you to see the benefits more clearly, which will aid in subsiding the fears and hesitations you may be feeling.
Step #2: Commit your leftover fears and hesitations to paper. If you can’t identify them, how can you plan to overcome them?
Step #3: Devise a policy that eliminates these fears and hesitations. This will be your social media policy that will address the role social media will play in your company, the expectations you have of your employees and guidelines to being a team player. Remember to guide your staff, but to leave enough room for inspiration and motivation.
Step #4: Develop a social media crisis plan and policy that clearly identifies different crisis scenarios. Then teach your team how to respond to each one, overcome them and what their role within the crisis communication strategy is.
Step #5: Advance at your own speed and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!
What to take away
Social media offers a unique advantage to connecting with your customers, employees and leveraging opportunities that were never before possible. Training your staff to understand how to represent your company online, both on your channels and on their own, comes with the territory and is well worth all the benefits you will reap compared to letting your irrational fears and lack of understanding get the best of you – crippling your company in worse ways.
If you’re worried a crisis may accidentally be started, have a social media crisis plan in place, then sleep easy at night knowing that the unpredictable is planned for. It’s as simple as that!
Did you have fears or hesitations before jumping into social media marketing? If so, how did you overcome them and choose to empower your brand instead of crippling it? What about other companies? Do you know of companies who have permitted their fear and lack of understanding to overpower their social media potential? If so, how are those companies faring today? Share your thoughts with me below!