As a teacher, I often thought about ways in which I could empower my students. I was able to learn Spanish in part because I watch English movies with Spanish subtitles. This one switch in my behavior has drastically improved my Spanish over the years. In a similar vein, how might we empower ourselves to advertise more effectively, and how can we empower our employees?
Motivate them to be interested
I was raised by two teachers and the complaints they brought home were endless. Complaining about students is practically a part time job for many teachers. When I became a teacher, I realized that much of the anxiety came from not being able to help a student that lacks interest in my subject. As a Spanish teacher, much of my time was spent advertising the benefits of Spanish. It didn’t matter to the students that the University of Minnesota gave me a piece of paper that says, “Master’s Degree in Education” on it. The classroom is a challenge because unlike the business world, students are often without choice. I moved from teaching into business because I enjoy the idea of working with people who are interested in being in the room – people who want to advance and be successful.
My first career was in education and in many ways, I am still an educator. We teach clients how to create media their audiences will take interest in. One classic example of a standard Facebook post is: “10 Things You Didn’t Know About [Insert Relevant Topic Here].” We’ve created thousands of these because they work. They get a moderate amount of traction and help raise rankings in Google, which makes the phone ring. It’s a little boring, yes, but it gets the job done. What we really love to see is the second kind of Facebook post, one that goes behind the scenes of a business to show customers the faces behind the company. The ideal post includes the employees happily helping others in the community through social engagement on behalf of the company. Feeding the homeless or volunteering is a wonderful example of that.
Engage your audience
Just as I engaged my students, my team and I engage audiences, providing them with information. Getting your customers to help promote your product is truly the “secret sauce” because it can grow your advertising departments’ size exponentially – if you have a good product! You can advertise the benefits of SPAM all day, every day, but you are going to hit a plateau based on the fact that you’re selling a product that is only probably meat. In other words, all markets have their limits.
Give them the freedom to share
Companies that restrict their employees’ social media profiles baffle me. I understand that brand integrity matters, but when you hire someone, you are already potentially compromising the brand’s integrity by taking a risk. Each employee is an extension of a company’s brand. The key is to have your employees fall in love with the company because the company is doing incredible things. This is one of the many reasons why we launched a comprehensive Cause Marketing initiative. Cause Marketing focuses on bringing nonprofits and businesses together to help promote one another. Cause Marketing increases employee retention as well because the employees feel part of something larger and philanthropic.
Create impactful opportunities
Let’s imagine a new wave of companies that understand the interconnectivity of the web, SEO in particular. They provide each of their employees the opportunity to send in posts (to be approved) for the company’s social media channel and ask them to take pictures and make YouTube videos. Imagine a company that consistently provides their employees with volunteer opportunities, or even creates a philanthropic budget that allows for their employees to spend time giving back. Thousands of photos and videos are waiting to be taken and the impact on social and SEO would be staggering, exponential in fact. Now, there should be restrictions to what can be done, but not so strict that it’s no longer fun to do. A brand is simply an idea that people share and when the employees of a business have no say in the branding of the company they work for, there is a disconnect. Companies that leverage the willpower of their employees online will take the lead.
Education and encourage your team
This is how we return to education. A curriculum that fully shows employees how they can promote the business which they are a part of will encourage them to become involved in marketing socially. I do recommend a barrier between the employees’ posting directly to the social media platforms, i.e. an editor, but that’s it. Give them direct access to the people in charge of the social media. They’ll feel more empowered and can also use successful posts as a resume builder. This is especially important for salespeople.
Allow contributions from all perspectives
It’s rare to see companies willing to take the risk to give their employees a say in the business. All too often the companies leave the voice of the company to the marketing department, which is the typical way to address communication. Here is the problem: the marketing department is only one group of people, versus an entire company who takes part in different activities, has different viewpoints and can all provide quality content for social media and online channels.
It’s all about education and empowerment. Don’t be afraid to encourage your employees to be social, within bounds, and see your SEO ranking and social engagement improve.