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It happens more times than you’d care to know; an employee posts raunchy pictures of their weekend debauchery for all of their Facebook friends to see. So why does this matter to you as an employer? Simple… Because it is becoming more and more common for employees to be linked with clients on their Social Media channels.
Several large organizations have paved the way in establishing strict online guidelines for employees to follow. A few of these companies have even made these details public: Cisco, IBM, Intel. Companies aren’t taking this stand to bully their employees or tell them they can not use Facebook or Twitter, but rather to use good judgment when there is an overlap with their professional and personal contacts.
If a formal policy is not the right fit for your organization, you can encourage employees to create a separate account for their business and networking relationships. This way they can tailor all their content in a way that will best represent their professional goals, while at the same time representing their employer in a positive light.
As an employer it is important to remember not only how Social Media can work for you, but also of all the ways it can work against you as well.
A friend of mine was recently looking for a new workout routine. She went to Google and typed in the phrase leg workout video. The very first organic result was a YouTube video which she found to be very useful. She particularly enjoyed the user reviews written about the video and even wrote one of her own. As she was sharing this information with me, I found it interesting (but not at all a surprise) that the video ranked #1; higher than any other natural search results. Google’s Universal Search, which was first rolled out in 2007, displays not only website results, but also videos, images, etc. Basically, if a video is properly tagged with relevant keywords, there is a good chance the video will trump an organic website result.
Another friend of mine is getting ready to take a cruise vacation with her family. She also went online, but chose Yahoo to research shore excursions. She discovered a travel forum where fellow vacationers’ were blogging about their travel experiences. Before she knew it, she had been online for over an hour, collaborating with people on the travel forum. She gained helpful insights that will save her both time and money and promised to write about her own travel experience.
Both of the above examples prove the fact that even if you think you’re not a social media user, the fact is that in one way or another, you probably are. You don’t need a Facebook page, nor have followers on Twitter to engage in Social Media. Social Media, defined by wikipedia as online content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies, is being used by almost everyone, in one way or another. Collaborative content is all over the internet and even if you aren’t looking, you will find it or rather, it will find you!
Many companies are afraid to delve into the brave new world of social media. A major reason for concern is that consumers can speak their minds and have their opinions heard by a larger audience than ever before. For most companies, this can be a great thing. Your consumers are actively engaged in your brand and are speaking out about it. However, the fear arises when the conversations are not positive. What do you do when your consumers are giving not so great feedback on your company? Do you just ignore it and hope it goes away?
The answer to that is a simple, no. Your audience is going to be on different social channels, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, blogs or forums, giving their opinions. For good or bad, it is necessary to have a presence on the social media channels.
We all know that every company will experience some negative word of mouth comments. If a company discovers that a customer is unhappy, they should reach out to the person to rectify the situation, turning a negative experience into a positive one. Social media channels are the ideal place to do that. Once that person is satisfied or the audience knows you have reached out to do the right thing, you will not only recover from the negative publicity, you have also gained positive publicity. Leveraging social media can not only overcome bad publicity, it can also fortify strong relationships with your loyal consumers.