It happens every Monday morning. You and your team gather in a conference room to discuss the week ahead. You pour over reports, sales data, and discuss larger industry trends. You identify next steps, vow to reconvene the game time next week, and go on your merry way.
Nothing unusual about the classic Monday morning meeting; and, while we have your attention, we would like to ask a few quick questions:
Have you considered how the information and insights gathered during these meetings can be used for marketing purposes? After all, you've taken the time to discuss issues critical to your company — why not leverage these insights in a customer-facing way?
Why not empower your employees to use social media to discuss this stuff with clients and prospects on their preferred channel of communication?
Oh, and why, exactly, are you still having meetings on Monday morning?
Our point is this: some senior managers are understandably afraid of embracing social media for employees. All it takes is for one drunken happy hour photo on the corporate Facebook account to torpedo the whole idea. That said, we can think of at least three reasons why leveraging social media for employees makes good business sense:
- It decentralizes information gathering. Most companies are arranged in a heirarchical fashion. Knowledge originates from the top and trickles-down to lower rungs within the organization. But this is a risky approach. After all, it's your sales team and customer service reps on the floor who are most attuned to client needs. History is littered with examples of businesses who have adopted this close-minded, siloed approach, only to see competitors whiz by them (most recently, the recent decline of Blackberry comes to mind.) Social media helps companies gather information from the ground up.
- It makes for more engaged employees. Managers always struggle with ways to keep employees engaged. Your employees most likely already use social media; who knows, in some cases, they're probably more sophisticated at it than you are (no offense.) So why not leverage this talent — it's not as if you have to pay someone to train them — and give them the ability to directly communicate with customers and prospects?
- It surfaces new business opportunities. Social media is a treasure trove of actionable customer insights. Don't just take our word for it: the next-generation of CRM platforms will integrate social media channels with back-end customer databases. And this integrated approach can also double as social media-driven R&D and market research. Take the classic Frito Lay example, whereby they solicited new potato chip flavor ideas from followers. Companies of all stripes are bypassing focus groups, research, and trend analysis entirely and going directly "to the people."
OK, so perhaps we've convinced you that social media for employees — when used wisely— makes sense. So how can thought leaders share their knowledge in a real-world scenario? Why, here are just a few examples of how a typical auto dealer could utilize social media.
- Sales floor. These are the folks "in the trenches." We suggest the classic "objection handling" lens for content creation and it goes like this: surface a common prospect objection and assign a solution to it. A sales staff employee, for example, can Tweet about how customers may be reluctant to buy a hybrid and then show how the technology has dramatically improved in recent years.
- Financing. Not all posts need to be sales-oriented. In fact, non-commercial posts help you display your expertise in the eyes of the public. The financing staff sits down with customers every day and are well-positioned to pass along useful information. For example, if you're a dealer in, say, Hayward, you'll want prospects to identify with your buyer personas by talking about ways families are saving money to help them afford a car.
- Management. Don't you hate it when you go to check out a car, politely decline, and then, just before you leave, they bring in the "big guns?" Yep, the manager rolls up and says, "So...what can I do to get you into a Toyota Tundra?" That always makes us feel uncomfortable. We suggest a more non-commercial approach to management when viewed through the lens of social media. They should be above the fray, yet still interested in customer needs. So managers (and, of course, other staff) can riff on all sorts of topics that will resonate with consumers.
- "2014 Will Be the Year of the Truck: Here's Why"
- "Why Consumers Are Committed to Long-Term Fuel Efficiency"
- "Coolest New Technology Advancements of 2013"
Of course, these are just a few examples. Our takeaway is simple: identify areas where your thought leaders excel, re-package these ideas for social media consumption, and cut them loose. You'll generate a ton of great social media content, exhibit your firm's expertise, and strengthen your brand in the process.
And while you're at, please do reconsider the Monday morning meetings. Terrible for morale.
Speaking of which, perhaps it's time for a "branding tune-up" (get it?) Download our quick Branding Questionnaire Audit to ensure your brand effectively represents your company: