For a sales manager, making the change from traditional sales techniques to social, or digital, selling can present many concerns. The risks of unfettered access to the internet have played out in the national press too many times to be ignored.
So, if you’re a member of the sales leadership team, you believe in Social Selling and Advocacy as a concept but can’t get past the fear of damaging your brand’s reputation, read our 3 solutions for managing social media risk and get the confidence to push ahead with a successful program
1. Brand And Values - Educate and Engage
Our first solution focuses on your brand itself and the values, messaging and ethos that your business stands for. There’s a well-known saying: prevention is better than cure and this solution is focused on preventing the likelihood of reputational damage as, once content or opinions are on social media, they are there to stay.
At Tribal, we believe that reputation management begins by ensuring your employees know everything they need to about what exactly that reputation is and why they need to protect it.
According to Gallup, 74% of employees feel they’re missing out on company information and news. In addition, only four in 10 can confidently describe to others what their employer does. This lack of communication means employees are less engaged, feel less valued and therefore attach less value to the brand (their employer).
Engagement comes from feeling valued and involved in an organisation’s decision-making process. Collaborate with your internal communications team to ensure there are clear ways for employees to access brand and values-related information.
Regular briefings – and a corporate narrative that hangs together with the brand story – are useful, but there needs to be a mix of both push and pull. If you can convince employees that this stuff is worth knowing, they will be more proactive in finding it out. It is critical that this information is continuously and easily accessible and clearly understood.
Once you’ve got their attention, why not ask your team members to think about some news or content ideas that illustrate the values and ethos of the brand. Aside from helping them to understand the type of material they might share as advocates, this is also a great way to brainstorm ideas for your content tool.why not ask your team members to think about some news or content ideas
The key is to help employees to make the link between the important reputational aspects of the business, the impact of amplifying these (and the risks of not) and how the tool is a safe place to find content that will not be damaging.
In summary: your brand and values information needs to be familiar, accessible and understood.
2. Etiquette And Essentials - Train And Train Again
It seems incredible to be making this statement, but simply assuming your whole team will take a common sense approach to their social media content will set you up for failure.
Taking social media content and behaviour right back to basics (the essentials), it’s inevitable that one person’s obviously inappropriate content is another’s bad joke and yet another’s public humiliation.
It is essential, when launching or embedding a Social Selling or advocacy program, that you help your team to understand their potential individual impact via social media. At Tribal, we refer to different stages of social maturity. Some of your people will be a social hero and some of them will be stuck at social zero.
Our Social Impact quiz is a great starting point to map out the range of social avatars that exist within your team. Quick and easy to complete, it provides an interactive, e-learning experience which assesses the impact of individuals via several social media platforms.
From this, an informed training program can be created, which addresses weaknesses and celebrates strengths.
The second string to your bow here is your Social Media Policy. Having a document which clearly outlines the etiquette of social media is essential. It will help those who aren’t sure to learn a confident and safe approach to working online. Create it, publicise it and keep it live! How? We suggest a regular quiz to check people remember the contents of the Policy.
Our Social Media Practitioner e-learning course is designed to quiz employees on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to representing their brand on social media. It uses real-life scenarios in a simple multiple-choice question style to check that people understand what they should and shouldn’t do. Some of our clients use this course as a ‘gateway’ to their advocacy program as it is possible to track responses. You can see who’s completed the course and assess whether they have any further training needs.
Making people aware of the obvious is something that’s easy to skip over but, in reality, it’s a simple, pain-free way to avoid much more costly mistakes in the future. Don’t forget, 39% of employees have already shared positive comments online about their employer according to Weber Shandwick. Your people are likely to be active anyway so make sure you are putting a safety net in place.
In summary: training is essential and should be ongoing. Never assume people understand.
3. Champions And Change – Nature And Nurture
We’ve already talked about ‘social hero’ and ‘social zero’ and here’s a solution that makes them unlikely bedfellows. Your advocacy program will undoubtedly uncover those who are naturals at social; they instinctively understand how far to go with a post, they have a natural ability to be engaging online and their posts gain real traction.
These people need to be championed and celebrated by the program. Doing so is good for their own profile but also means others know who to ask if they’re not sure about something. According to Altimeter Group, only 45% of employees have a clear understanding of what they should and shouldn’t do on social media when it comes to company-related topics, so your heroes are key to your success.
Your social heroes should be delivering training to those who are less confident and you can empower and engage them further by making them a driving force in deciding what content is available within your advocacy tool.
Our Social Practitioner e-learning course can be taken time and time again so there’s scope for creating a journey for employees as they become more familiar with social media and their role as an advocate.
In summary, use your in-house expertise. This is training belt and braces. Use your formal training programmes to make sure your standards are high enough. Use your people on the ground to help make sure they stay there.
To recap, minimising risk is all about getting the key challenges and danger areas out in the open and acknowledging them. Training, mentoring and coaching are themes that should run through any advocacy program: never assume that people know what they are doing (or even that their definition of ‘acceptable’ is the same as yours, or your legal teams’.
Implement training and re-training opportunities throughout the lifecycle of your advocacy program to ensure you are capturing needs and best practice and following them up accordingly. Do so in a variety of ways: each of us learns in a different way. Your employees may be auditory (learn by listening), visual learners or they may learn by doing. Try to use training solutions that allow a combination of learning styles so that everyone is able to improve.
Lastly, reward those who are getting it right by empowering them to take a ‘champion’ role within the programme. They will be closer to those who are struggling and can help you define what sort of follow-up training is needed. They can elevate their own profile by helping share best practice and by creating content for your advocacy tool.