How to ‘socialise’ your workforce.

If you think about it, your employees should be the most devout ambassadors of your brand. They know your products and services better then most and it’s in their interests to promote the company that pays their wages. The credibility associated with this kind of word-of-mouth advertising makes it potentially one of the most effective promotional vehicles at your brand’s disposal.

As the proliferation of social media platforms continues to change and meld our personal and business lives, so it becomes an ever more powerful (and relatively inexpensive) tool for your ambassadors to influence the buying habits of those in their social spheres by spreading the good word about your brand far and wide.

So how do you make effective brand ambassadors of your employees and ‘socialise’ your workforce? Here are some suggestions:

1) Get your employees onside – unhappy employees are not likely to make your best brand ambassadors. It goes without saying, look after them and they will look after you. That is more important now than ever if you want to keep your brand’s reputation intact.

2) ‘Socialise’ your culture – ensure that social media is a part of the cultural fabric of your organisation. If you haven’t already heard, it’s how we communicate these days – and it’s going to become more prolific for building relationships with clients, suppliers, colleagues, etc. If you don’t vilify phone and email users, or meeting attendees for that matter, then why do it to staff members who are more comfortable using social media – most likely your younger and more forward-thinking employees. Don’t ration or outlaw the use of social media at work – embrace it as a part of your communications strategy and enable your workforce to be comfortable with it. See a word from me about this in an earlier blog post.

3) Identify your ‘social employees –  these are the ones that will carry your social strategy forward and become your greatest brand ambassadors. Survey your staff – ask around. Have a quick shufty on social networks and see who’s active. Then engage them.

4) Plan your strategy – identify some objectives for your social efforts (eg. drive website traffic and conversions, build brand awareness). Define key messages you want to get across to your audience and then educate your social ambassadors about them.  Schedule these messages to coincide with particular events (eg. product launch) to make them relevant. Set some parameters for the socialisation of your social marketing efforts.

5) Tool up – give your social employees the tools they need to weave their magic. Give them access to social networks on their desktops and laptops. Explore the use of social media as an internal communications tool. Give your social army (paid-for) mobile devices, dedicated solely to the business of promoting your business – and make sure they have permissions and budgets to download the social apps they need for the task. Offer any training required.

6) Incentivise – give your social employees an incentive to broadcast their loyalty to your brand. Give them the option to try or even own new products before official release, so they can blog, tweet, pin and share their opinions (within agreed parameters of course). Offer other incentives for employees who generate results. How about giving away an iPad once a quarter, to encourage your social employees to be even more sociable?

7) Monitor – measure the results of your social efforts against your objectives. Make sure someone is in charge and on top of what your social employees are doing online. You don’t want your brand name dragged through the mud by one of your own because they had a disagreement with a colleague.

The age of the ‘social employee’ dawns.

Check out more on the subject here:

http://blog.clomedia.com/2012/06/redefining-the-social-employee/

Advertisements

Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses v2.0 [Infographic] | Search Engine Journal

Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses v2.0 [Infographic] | Search Engine Journal.

Pinterest Drives More Traffic Than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn

Pinterest Drives More Traffic Than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn.

A+ for G+?

Google announced Events on Google+.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/102311875004581334954/posts/eHr7iM1etQW

It allows you to send invitations and post photos of events on it. Wait. That sounds familiar. But what is new is that anyone with photos of the event can post them all in one place. More sociable for sure. But potentially catastrophic for anyone who likes some say in which of their photographs appears online. And this is likely as not to include most brands. Not everybody’s gatherings look like the wholesome sailing trip with the girls and boys from next door as depicted in Google’s twee video at the link above. In fact, does anybody’s?

The bigger question for me is who is using Google+? Reports say it now has 250 million users according to, well…Google. But where are they? There’s 174 comments (to date) under the video post granted, so somebody’s out there beyond the howling winds and tumbleweed that have characterised my personal experience of G+. Admittedly, ‘circles’ seemed to be a great idea, and far more in tune with the way we interact with our contacts in reality than facebook’s indiscriminate stuffing of all your ‘friends’ in to one unholy throng. But despite Google’s best efforts to claim a slice of the social pie, the future of G+ still appears to be anyone’s guess.

Will Google Events help G+ catch up with facebook or does the boss of search need to stick with what it does best?

Antisocial media

This links to an interesting post about managers who don’t use social media:

http://bit.ly/NS6JJc

I found the account of the CFO fascinating – the one protesting that he couldn’t use social media professionally because of the ‘risk’. Financial people – you’ve got to love them. I used to work with a mid-level manager who wouldn’t touch social. She was quite proud of it too. Above it perhaps? Let’s see if she’s above being employed in 5 years.

So should we or shouldn’t we use social media as professionals?

We’ll deal with the downsides to start with.

First of all, people know your business. My parents’ generation and generations prior to that guarded their personal business fiercely. Knowledge was power so you kept it to yourself. Besides, everybody was out to get you. Everybody! Trust no one.  If it’s not the communists it’s the capitalists. George Orwell warned us that Big Brother was watching. Patrick McGoohan would not be “pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered”. More traditional institutions (banks) still implement military grade security around their customer service portals – passwords to access passwords that allow you to log in with a password…and time you out 6 seconds later. Safe, yes. Intolerable for customers.

I am of the inbetweener generation. We are not our parents, but we also remember a world before t’Internet. And so a little of that skepticism of the oldies rubbed off. If you’d pitched facebook to me 10 years ago, I am a little ashamed to say that I would have poo-pooed the idea in a heartbeat. What sane minded individual would willingly share personal information, family photos, and private opinions in a public forum for crooks, authorities and the unwashed masses to scrutinize, exploit, judge and refute? Poppycock! Ironically, today I’m a veritable social butterfly, as are the vast majority of my contemporaries. Over a quarter of facebook users are 35 years old plus.  Go olds.

The second big issue about using social media is that you might say something stupid that could jeopardize your career. Who hasn’t heard those woeful tales of employees getting the heave-ho because they were caught bad-mouthing bosses or partying like Keith Richards on facebook? Joshua Waldman warns us in his post that the FTC approved social media content as a legal basis for rejection of job candidates in 2011. Another daunting fact to spook the accountant types. Boo! But for anyone who relies on the creation and expression of fresh ideas to make a living (creatives, entrepreneurs), then yes, we are in danger of saying something that could come back to bite us on the arse. And that’s OK, because challenging convention and being bold is the fuel of progress. The alternative is never to do anything that moves your organisation forward and grows your business. That might work if you’re a financial controller, lawyer or civil servant, but if your job requires you to be enterprising then you will have to stick your neck out on occasion, take a leap or ruffle feathers, otherwise nothing positive ever happens. And every now and then you’ll have to take the consequences on the chin, so it helps if you have one.

Now the upsides of using social media as your soap box.

First of all, people know your business. Today we live in a society that embraces the sharing of personal information, online communities and self-publicity. Technology changes but human nature doesn’t. Just as before, those that succeed tend to be those that make the most noise (yes, I know that sucks). Only the platform has changed. These days the noisy ones can make more noise than ever before. Social media empowers us to become self-professed industry leaders and build huge networks of relevant contacts. This means that if you’re not banging your drum and blowing your horn online you’re more likely to be overlooked. That’s the first bloody nose for your career.

The second bloody nose for your career (or more of a concussion blow to the head) will come when you realise (or worse still, your employer realises first) that you can no longer communicate and function in your work environment. It won’t be long before social media is standard MO for the internal and external communications of all organisations. It’s inevitable. It’s as intuitive for today’s school leavers as sending a fax was for us. Email will go the way of the fax. Certain professions (finance?) and senior managers may still frown upon the use of social media in business today, but this antiquated attitude will be swept aside by a new generation of leaders that know no other way. This is inevitable, given the potential of social media to enhance the flow of knowledge and speed of communication in business, making companies leaner and more competitive (see my earlier post on social media at work).

So, the question of whether or not you should be using social media comes down to whether you think it’s better to be visible or invisible in your career . How would you like to come across in a management meeting or a job interview? How would you like your clients or potential employers to view you? If being seen scares you then maybe you should become a secret agent…or an accountant. As Joshua Waldman points out in his post, if an employer is considering you as a potential candidate ‘you will be googled.’ Probably best to be in when they come a calling.

Googling goggles

Google Goggles allows you to search using pictures.

http://www.google.com/mobile/goggles/#text

The concept is still in it’s infancy so it won’t work so well on less readily identifiable objects, but the potential ignites the imagination.

It has some pretty clear educational benefits for sure, like researching objects and places of historical, cultural or geographical interest.  Could it eventually be used to provide guidance for solving every day challenges, such as diagnosing technical or engineering (or God forbid, medical!) issues simply by taking a photograph of the problem?

What impact will this technology have for marketers? It could help consumers access product information in stores (like code scanners), or allow them to identify the vendors of products they see and like? In any event it will increase the importance of image usage in the search optimization process. Time for a new product shoot methinks.

360 cometh

With Google Maps and Street View growing in popularity, I am bewildered as to why 360 virtual tour photography not only hasn’t taken over from conventional photography but has barely made an impression on the consciousness of the content hungry consumerkind.

If you want to see what I mean, check these guys out:

www.eyerevolution.co.uk
www.360edge.co.uk

By my reckoning there are huge opportunities today for photographers and marketers alike. 360 does everything conventional (non-360) photography does, and a bucket load more. Not least, allow you to swivel right round to survey your entire environment…well, 360 degrees.

Why hasn’t 360 yet replaced a significant proportion of the far more boring conventional photography on the web – every house for sale, every hotel room, every restaurant, every leisure attraction, every event and just about everything else that benefits from showcasing a space?

It’s not new technology. It’s been around eons. And it’s relatively accessible and affordable, either by hiring a local photographer or purchasing the kit and doing it yourself. Interactive ‘hot spots’ on the photograph mean businesses can link to other views or content, perfect for highlighting specific products and offers.  There’s simply no reason not to want to replace all those tired old lifeless non-360 shots on your site, that don’t allow your visitors to interact with or explore your space and wares. There were concerns some time ago that loading times were slow but not so with modern browsers.

And there are now cheap devices and apps that let Jo Schmo have a go (check out: www.pixeet.com). Think about facebook? Imagine how much sexier all those shots of your raucous Friday nights, kite surfing off the coast of Antigua and tiger back rides in deepest Sri Lanka would look if they could be viewed in 360 degrees.

Google is promoting 360 globally on it’s products and even developing a business model hiring local photographers to take the shots for placement on its various platforms, integrating with Street View to showcase local businesses.

So why isn’t 360 everywhere? Search 10 local restaurants and tell me how many have it on their site. I’d be surprised if you find one.

When colour photography superseded black and white it was a no brainer. When digital superseded film, likewise. What happened with 360? And 360 video is out there now so even the next stage of the evolution is already with us. Check out what Yellowbird is doing for the advertising and entertainment industries and let your imagination run riot with the myriad possibilities of this – http://bit.ly/17mkBP. Watch this space for live streaming 360 video.

My prediction? 360 cometh.

optimising search

Even after all this time and despite the collective genius of google’s revered sandal-wearing wizards, search still seems to be in the dark ages doesn’t it? I mean, I search for a product or service and get a gazillion results. It’s all quantity, no quality. I search for cake, yet I have no idea if it’s good cake or bad cake.  Result? Next to useless. Imagine a world of search where results reflect the quality of the offering. This could be possible based on information available on the net, such as reviews, prices, opinion, customer base, etc. Search needs to return real value to the user, not a directory of who spent the most on SEO.