Wednesday, January 04, 2012

#MARKETS: "Social Employees Becoming Brand Stewards"

When employees are trained in how to leverage social-media sites affiliated with an enterprise, they become the new brand stewards by expressing how corporations care about their customers and employees.

Andrea Goldberg, president and founder of Digital Culture Consulting, LLC (Bedford, N.Y.)

Forward-thinking companies are leveraging social media by allowing their employees to become brand stewards--who, by making positive postings, can improve perception and promote loyalty.

No one is questioning the major impact social media is having on businesses as enterprises increasingly switch to interactive and collaborative platforms for communicating with their employees and customers. One surprise to some, however, is that the employees on the front line of social media are now defining an enterprise’s brand, especially with regard to being a good place to work.

"The relatively new phenomenon of social media is contributing to organizational effectiveness, branding and customer support," said Andrea Goldberg, president and founder of Digital Culture Consulting, LLC (Bedford, N.Y.).

Last year, Burson-Marsteller found that in Fortune 100 companies more than 66 percent already used Twitter, 54 percent had a corporate Facebook page and 50 percent had a corporate YouTube channel. And this is only the beginning, since 90 percent of employees with marketing titles reported using social media in campaigns and 73 percent reported planning to increase their social-media efforts in 2012.

Employees, in particular, are coming to expect their employers to provide social-media mechanisms, since they already use sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to organize their business-oriented communications.

"Employees have the ability and the desire to use these tools to interact with their colleagues, managers and customers, and to accomplish work differently than by traditional methods," said Goldberg.

Just as sites like Yelp and Angie’s List allow customers to evaluate vendors, internal LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts are affecting recruiting, selection, rewards and incentives, as well as helping to define job roles, training and development efforts.
At forward-thinking companies that have already been moving up the social-media learning curve, employees’ social-media skills are turning them into the brand stewards of the enterprise, promoting loyalty and support for the enterprise's current employees and defining the company as a good place to work for potential new hires.

"They can help position the company as an employer of choice," said Goldberg who also listed as benefits greater transparency, trust, responsibility and innovation.

However, just as positive postings by employees boost a brand's perception, negative postings can do the opposite. Enterprises, however, are reducing incidents in which employees post comments that negatively affect the corporate brand by providing internal suggestion systems to which management directly responds, thus providing correction mechanisms that do not require employees to air dirty laundry in public.