Engaging Employees Productively in Social Media Marketing Efforts

It’s not always easy to tie marketing spend to an increase in revenue — even defining a standard way to measure return on marketing investment (ROMI or MROI) can be difficult — which can often mean that marketing managers struggle to increase their budgets. While we wholeheartedly stand by the fact that a well-crafted and well-implemented marketing strategy will bring in far more revenue than it costs to put in place, there’s always room for low-cost or no-cost strategies. And, as we’ve stressed before, employees can be great brand ambassadors.

Enter the social media multiplier effect. Citing a CMO survey, the American Marketing Association (AMA) writes, “Marketers continue to make social a priority and will boost their social media investments from 10.6% to 20.9% of budgets over the next five years, according to the most recent results of The CMO Survey.” But the source of these benefits is often derived from employees outside the marketing function. “According to the survey, more than a quarter of marketers say their companies will make social media investments for activities that typically fall under the human resource department’s purview — such as employee engagement and talent acquisition.”

The AMA notes six ways employee social media use can nurture employee engagement:

  • Bringing the Brand to Life
    • Real people, actively using social media to engage in lively discussion surrounding the brand.
  • Building Brand Ownership
    • Employees taking pride in their place of employment and displaying that pride publicly.
  • Sharing the Company’s Story
    • Employees typically have an insight into a company’s story and culture that can be hard to capture in a typical marketing campaign.
  • Crowdsourcing an Electronic Water Cooler
    • Social media can facilitate easy communication for otherwise unrelated individuals on opposite ends of the world. It can do the same or more for employees of the same company who might be in different departments, branches or even continents.
  • Fostering an Internal Community
    • A robust social media culture within your organization can encourage a sense of commonality with fellow employees.
  • Creating Thought Leaders
    • Social media allows even the quiet giants within your organization to publicly display the human capital driving your company.

While employee engagement is obviously a laudable goal, the AMA points out that “While the direct effect of social media on customer outcomes, such as increased engagement or referrals, has received more attention from practitioners, the pathway through employee engagement is less understood.” The AMA points to four potential human capital benefits of social media for your organization:

  • Enhanced Talent Acquisition
    • An active social media culture can be a very positive sign for potential employees researching your firm online.
  • Improved Employee Retention
    • It’s one thing to have a job. It’s another to be a part of a community. Employees value that sense of belonging.
  • Increased Employee Productivity
    • Might sound counterintuitive at first, but building an internal network through social media can help facilitate efficient collaboration.
  • Enriched Company Culture
    • Many companies have formal events, communications and initiatives to mold company culture, but social media adds a grassroots element to strengthen and enrich it.

Social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, whether it’s with friends and family, customers, employees or the public at large. Assuming you’re hiring the best and brightest, as most companies strive to do, you can turn your employees — even the non-marketing variety — into effective social media multipliers.

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