If you take it at face value that leadership is influence, then you best be influencing your employees use of social media before you are influenced by it in ways you may or may not like. As an HR professional, were trained to manage and mitigate the risks of our employees’ actions to our organizations. For many this has led to the knee-jerk reaction of banning social media in the workplace altogether, as if we were some rogue dictatorship of a country like Syria or Cuba. Yet as the Turkish prime minister has recently discovered, blocking your people’s access to social media is about as futile as attempting to prevent a flood by covering the cracks in your dam with your hands.
More forward thinking organizations are coming to this realization sooner than their less progressive counterparts, and are taking the social media bull by the horns. MasterCard is an example, is one such organization. And at the heart of their strategy, what I would consider a major factor in their successful adoption of social media as an organization is training. This piece by Jeanne Meister highlights some of the steps the company has taken in recent years to actively influence their employees use of social media, and turn them into brand ambassadors.
Many of the steps the company is taking such as building a training and communications plan, posting in person social media training sessions at offices around the globe, distributing short educational videos via social media channels, and using reverse mentors (where younger millennial generation employees mentor older senior executives) to get them up to speed on the latest social media platforms and trends are all training and organizational development strategies we can all implement and utilize to lead similar efforts ourselves.
I would go as far as to tell you that not only can you turn your employees into brand ambassadors using some of these techniques, but go beyond and convert your best customers into brand ambassadors leveraging some of these strategies and tactics. Engage your employees, your investors and owners, and your customer base. Encourage your customers to post pictures and videos of themselves using and enjoying your products. Have your communications and marketing teams reach out to these customers, and get the stories behind their pictures and videos; these customers are telling the story of your brand- get their permission to highlight their excitement and enjoyment when using your products and services on your site. Bring attention to their efforts, and turn them from fans of your products and services to ambassadors!
There are just two roads you can travel to success in today’s digital and socially connected business climate. You can either lead with social media, or be led by it.
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.