Big Idea 2013: Get All of Your Employees on Social Media

If there’s one thing you must do in 2013, it is to get strategic about social.

Now that I have your attention, let me caveat that call to action. To date, the words “social” and “strategic” rarely fall into the same sentence. Sorry, but just having a Facebook and Twitter presence doesn’t count as a strategy – all too often, companies check the box for social channels and think they are covered.

2013 is the year that organizations are getting serious about social, looking at ways to move it out of the marketing and PR departments into places throughout the organization that engage a far larger number of employees – from the obvious like customer service and product development to the less obvious, such as supply chain and employee development.

This goes far beyond just putting in place a social media presence managed by a few people. It’s about involving potentially all of your employees, asking them to rise to the opportunity of becoming advocates of your brand. The question to ask yourself is, does your organization have the discipline and resilience to allow all of your employees to become active participants in social media on behalf of your brand? For some leaders, this is an exciting, game-changing opportunity. But for most organizations, it’s absolutely terrifying.

So let’s take a few starter steps to realizing the benefits of widening broader social engagement throughout your organization. Many are putting in place enterprise social networks that enable employees and executives to communicate with each other confidentially behind a firewall. Others like Applebee’s have installed social media management systems (SMMS) that allow restaurant managers at 2,000 locations to have their own social media presence.

That kind of scale doesn’t happen overnight – it takes some serious planning, technology, and training. The first and most important step for you to take is to see the opportunity for greater engagement. The second, and probably harder one, is to see your employee workforce in a different light – not as potential social media time bombs that could go off without warning, but as engaged, proactive brand ambassadors.

So get cracking, line up your HR and Legal leaders, and get started planning how your organization can be strategic with social when your employees are out there and engaged with each other and your customers.