Social media employee empowerment has become a business imperative – but why?
Because (as we have seen from previous posts – see below) brands do not have the social reach of all their employees combined and, more importantly, they do not have the trust and level of engagement employees can achieve.
A recent story in Fortune magazine, Brands are using social media more than ever, and users are ignoring them more than ever, highlights the challenges of social media for brands.
It points out that at a time when brands are using more social media than ever the percentage of posts that lead to user interactions keeps falling.
The rates at which users interact with branded social media posts has always been low, but a 2014 study and a follow up study in 2015 by Forrester indicate the numbers are falling, the Fortune piece says.
"Last year, Instagram posts from brands created interactions with 4.2 percent of a brand’s followers. This year, that number fell to 2.2percent," it says.
"On Pinterest, interactions fell from 0.1 percent to 0.04 percent."
It all adds up to brands doing more and getting less from social media.
Citing Sprout Social research a recent Social Media Today piece, 7 in 8 Social Messages to Brands Go Unanswered, notes that more and more consumers expect a response to a social media inquiry on a brand's official social presence.
Sprout’s research found "7 in 8 social messages go unanswered by brands in the first 72 hours," which Sprout likened to not answering your phone at your place of business.
The author of the SMT piece, A. A. Currey (@AjaMaybe ion Twitter) is a content hacker at Social Media Today and says what makes a brand have a great response rate and a good rapport with the customer is having actual humans on the other end of social channels.
"The way to a satisfied customer base is, yes, a quick and regular response rate, but there’s no faster way to a consumer’s heart than an authentic reply.
“And that’s something only a brand who values human-to-human connection can provide," she says.
A recent post on the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) website further explains why engagement matters for brands:
"With an engaged, loyal online group of followers, you’ll cultivate an audience that will want to buy from you," it says.
"And, here’s an even bigger benefit—they’ll share information about your brand with their communities, too."
The IABC then goes on to offer its 10 questions to jump-start social media engagement.
Among them are sparking a reader’s curiosity with a question and offering a single-question survey.
So, if social media employee empowerment is important to the brand how can an organization encourage it?
An example of how a brand encourages employees to engage on social media is found in Coca-Cola’s Social Media Principles:
The principles start with: "Countless conversations take place online about Coca-Cola every day, and we want our Company’s more than 150,000 associates in more than 200 countries to join those conversations, represent our Company, and share the optimistic and positive spirits of our brands."
They go on to discuss company commitments (five key principles including transparency and monitoring), personal use of social media (including the admonition: "We encourage you to get online and have fun, but use sound judgment and common sense") and company spokespeople expectations.
So, social media employee empowerment is clearly a business MUST in 2015 … will more companies get on board?
Previous posts about SM employee empowerment