Around 13+ million Australian’s use Facebook everyday and its likely your staff are using some form of social network either on the way to work, during their lunchtime and on the way home. But should you encourage staff to actively use social media during office hours and if you do, what are the tangible benefits to your small business?
Today I wanted to show you 5 positive outcomes for allowing your staff to become proficient in social media and show you the different ways it will add genuine value to your business. Let’s imagine that you’re a small cupcake shop, with 15 staff.
1. Leverage their networks & find your champions
The truth is, when it comes to promoting your service, product or brand, your employees are a key component of your online strategy. They have their own networks of families, friends and followers which, with care, you can tap into.
Firstly do a search for the names of your staff online and see which of them are the most active online. Whilst its likely their Facebook profile will be set to private, you might be able to see their LinkedIn, Pinterest Instagram, YouTube and Twitter profiles. Once you’ve discovered the top 5 employees who are active on social and who have a growing network, ask them if they would be willing to support your social media campaigns.It might be as simple as sharing an update from the companies Facebook Page with their friends or posting a photo of your latest product (in this case cupcakes!) onto their Instagram feed. There’s a whole avenue of potential customers and business waiting to be tapped into.
It’s vitally important you don’t pressure them to constantly promote everything you’re doing, allow them to make their decisions on how they interact with their own networks – it’s a reflect on their brand. But should they willingly share your content, offers or business – be grateful and thank them when they do. It’s a good idea to setup a weekly internal email, with the types of content you’d like your staff to share and talk about each week. If you have a new line of chocolates, give them a free online voucher to share with 5 of their friends across social. If there’s a new cupcake available, supply them with a photo and ask them to tweet and share it on Pinterest. Make it as easy as possible for them to love and share your brand.
2. Use Social to surface great ideas
It can be an arduous process keeping track of current industry trends and what the competition next door is doing. So empower your staff to find ways to help improve your business. If you think your cupcake menu needs updating with some new flavours, ask your staff to search on social and ask their friends, what are their favourite flavours? Or if they could create one cupcake, what would it be?
This will save you hours having to search through Google looking for recipes and ideas. There’s every chance you might get some inspiration for new flavour that your customers will absolutely love, from the most unlikeliest of sources. When you’re running a business, sometimes its hard to find time to sit down with people, share ideas and brainstorm – its very easy to get stuck in a loop and routine.
Create a Facebook Group, just for your staff where they can post questions, suggestions and ideas for the business – like a feedback loop. Some staff might find it hard to approach you during the middle of a busy day, give them the opportunity to get their views and ideas heard and shared. “I had a customer come in today and ask me if we did home delivery. I told him we didn’t but perhaps that’s something we should look at?”
3. They’ll create content for you
If you have an event for example, encourage your staff to take photos tagging and referencing potential customers and partners. You can then share these across the social profiles of the business. Remember, we’re a cupcake shop. Let’s say you’ve purchased a stand at a food and drink festival. Ask your staff to take photographs of the tent and tweet the location so people can find you. Use the festival hashtag so that potential people can come and buy a cupcake from you. For example, you might send a tweet like this:
“We’ve got hundreds of delicious cupcakes in 20 different flavours in Section 12B, come try them! #sydfoodfestival”
Once a customer comes to the stand, ask if its ok to shoot a quick video asking them what they thought of the taste. You can then use these on your site and in your newsletter. If you have a sale, special announcement or event you want to promote Every day is an opportunity to create new content.
4. It Breaks Down Barriers
Getting to know your co-workers, their passions and interests can help create a positive atmosphere in the workplace. Whilst no business should dictate who you should or shouldn’t be friends with on social – give people the option to follow each other. If you have a directory which lists people’s contact details, include their social media profiles (providing they are happy to share them) – in many cases people are checking their Facebook, more than their email! You might be surprised at just how much you have in common with your co-workers. There might be someone who works part-time in the company, that you rarely get to meet and whom you’ve barely spoken to.
By following or viewing their social footprint, you might discover that you are both passionate about the same sports team – thereby breaking down the barriers and opening up lines of communication in the work place. Not everyone is inherently social but there are connections that social media will allow you to make (through passions, shared interests and related friends), that aren’t quite so obvious in every day life.
5. It’s a great way to upskill and reduce costs.
If you can’t afford to give you staff a raise, giving them some form of training so they can advance their skills is often a good stop gap. Allowing all staff access to social, empowers them to help, guide and train one another. One member might use Pinterest and another only Instagram, but together they can both share their knowledge and tricks on how to get the best out of each platform.
That means when it comes to supporting or promoting your business, they are already savvy and skilled enough to maximise any opportunity you give them. This might be knowing which tags to use, what time to post and which influencers they should reference to increase you reach. It’s true that not everyone will be a master at every aspect of social media, but the combined knowledge of all your staff is valuable and powerful resource.