Are you silencing your best advocates?

One of the most frustrating things about working in social media is seeing how many organisations completely miss the point. A fundamental principle behind social media is that whether you’re the CEO or an intern, there’s nothing stopping you from sharing your opinions with the whole world through a wide range of social channels. The […]

One of the most frustrating things about working in social media is seeing how many organisations completely miss the point. A fundamental principle behind social media is that whether you’re the CEO or an intern, there’s nothing stopping you from sharing your opinions with the whole world through a wide range of social channels. The […]

One of the most frustrating things about working in social media is seeing how many organisations completely miss the point.

The traditional model sees a brand communicating with its audience by strictly controlling the flow of information through the marcoms function

A fundamental principle behind social media is that whether you’re the CEO or an intern, there’s nothing stopping you from sharing your opinions with the whole world through a wide range of social channels. The organisation’s communications can no longer be strictly controlled, and this is what makes social media both exciting and daunting for brands.

But in the face of this momentous opportunity, what do we see companies doing time and time again? Profiles are set up on channels like Twitter and Facebook for the PR and marketing teams to push out their messaging, and social media guidelines are drawn up to discourage employees from talking about the company online.

New media, same old message

Rather than taking advantage of the opportunities created by this new world, many brands simply try to shoehorn it into the same approach that they take to conventional media and convince themselves that they’re doing a great job of “embracing social media”. I’m not arguing that social media channels shouldn’t be used for PR and marketing purposes, just that businesses need to understand this is only one small part of a much bigger and more profound change in the way organisations communicate.

Social media means that all parts of a business can communicate directly with the most relevant audiences. This can be dangerous if not properly managed, but it also represents a great opportunity to capitalise on strong advocacy throughout the organisation.

Some companies already understand this. At Text 100 we’re currently working with a global tech brand to identify superstars from all across the business and enabling them actively talk about their jobs in social media channels. None of these employees are comms professionals, but they are all passionate about the work they do and are excellent ambassadors for the brand.

Rather than insisting that only the comms team is allowed to talk about the business in social media, this company has understood that the best stories about the brand come from the people who work on the front lines. To help them tell those stories, we’ve worked with managers to identify the best candidates and developed a training programme which gives them the skills to engage audiences online and use social media to raise their personal profile within the industry.

Building an army of experts

But, perhaps more importantly, the programme also helps them to think of themselves as experts in their fields which gives them the confidence to talk authoritatively on behalf of the company in industry blogs, forums and other social channels.

The benefit to the company is clear. It now has a small army of advocates who are empowered to talk about the brand online, not as on-message marketing people, but as industry experts with valued skills and insight.

With these advocates taking the organisation’s stories out to hundreds of different touchpoints across the web, the opportunity for potential clients and other stakeholders to witness the brand’s expertise first hand is far, far higher than if social media was left entirely in the hands of the marketing people.

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