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What to Do If You’re Drowning in the Sea of Social Media

June 14, 2012 - 4 Comments

If you’re a social manager trying to weather the storm all by yourself, at some point you have probably yelled (or will yell) for a life vest. Your life vest can come in many shapes and sizes. And help may be closer than you think. In the context of social media, a life vest can be budget, executive support, an army of employees (whose  main job is not social media) ready to engage with you, or a combination of the above. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to focus on building employee engagement.       

The Framework

 I’d like to offer up a framework to those of you that are looking to mobilize your employees.

  1. “Programmitize”: Create a repeatable and scalable program. Have a plan in place before you start engaging employees. Create a community or a hub where people can gather, find out more info, nominate each other, etc. Provide a platform that can help you build a sense of community over time
  2. Identify: Start with your most passionate employees – those that are already tweeting, blogging, Facebook-ing on their own. Ask them if they’re interested in participating in company initiatives, too
  3. Recruit: Make participation voluntary. Show them what’s in it for them, how they’re helping the company and what you’d like them to do. Make it easy for them to sign up while making the sign-up process meaningful to you. If you know who these people are from the get-go, you will be able to offer more relevant participation opportunities to them   
  4. Enable: Provide the necessary training (social media policy, anyone?), guidance, tools and infrastructure. Make learning a safe environment for them to help increase their comfort level (if needed)
  5. Activate: Understand participants’ underlying motivations, expertise and interests; and offer opportunities to participate accordingly. Give them specific tasks they can do and set expectations. Help answer questions and resolve issues as needed or point them to a place or person that can help
  6. Reward: Use tangible and non-tangible rewards. You don’t always have to reach for your wallet. Say “thank you a lot” and notify their managers and executives of their accomplishments. Put them in the spotlight and highlight how they have made a difference for the business. Offer special perks and invite them as VIP guests to events
  7. Socialize: Share successes widely. Find ways to keep this effort top of mind by integrating it with your other initiatives (e.g., include a blurb in your presentation, etc)  and by encouraging employees to share this opportunity with each other. This will help drive the idea deeper into the fabric of the organization and as a result, you will start seeing greater results
  8. Assess: Look for ways to improve and make your effort more relevant to the individuals and the company   

Be Creative and Have Fun

Make the process fun. Gamification techniques, such as badging, community voting and peer nominations can help with recruitment, activation and recognition. (For example, check out our SME Champion badge).

Our Social Ambassador program at Cisco also has a Social Match component, which aims at matching people with relevant opportunities based on their profiles.

What Happens Online…Doesn’t Have to Stay There

Extend your relationship into the offline world. Just because they’re your social ambassadors, it doesn’t mean you should only engage with them in the social web. Integrate your online and offline activities to build and strengthen relationships. For example, invite your SMEs to an event you’re organizing, ask them to host briefings, say hello in an email, meet up for lunch, etc.

Without a doubt, there are many ways you can get creative and have fun with this program while helping your company. Do you have an employee activation program in place? Share your tips below.

Related Resources:

Does Your CEO Speak Social? (read notes section too)

Executive Engagement in Corporate Social Media

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  1. This post has hpleed me think things through

  2. Petra,
    Authentically true to: Cisco: the HUMAN network!
    Thank you great and helpful post. Looking forward to participating here!!!

  3. Petra, this looks like a real good framework. From my own experience, nothing motivates more than meaningful social connections and success. If employees can connect through social media with someone outside the company – with an online conversation leading to a phone or face to face conversation, that makes the value of the online connection feel a lot more real. And when a person’s participation online gets responded to by other leaders in a field, when they get to see some feedback instead of feeling like they are just shouting into a void – that’s great motivation too.

    Thanks for articulating this framework explicitly and for the part about “programmitization” in particular. 😉