It’s one thing to set up a social media strategy for your company, but educating your employees to be effective social brand ambassadors creates its own set of challenges.
As social media has become pivotal in amplifying your brand’s message, many companies grapple with how to keep employees from posting content that will land them in hot water. Beyond that, companies also want to find ways to engage their employees to act as influencers and brand ambassadors.
We’ve tapped the knowledge of Jessica Zambelli, who has worked in social media for five years. Jessica launched Calvin Klein’s Instagram and worked on the #mycalvins campaign. She also launched Banana Republic’s Snapchat account and created social campaigns for National Geographic’s social channels.
Jessica is now Justworks’ social media guru. Below, she gives five points of advice for companies wondering how to align their social media messaging and get employees on board.
5 Tips on Social Media Guidelines, with Jessica Zambelli
1. Set Up Your Social Media Goals
Before introducing your employees to your social media policy, you must (and I cannot stress this enough) know what your goals are for social. Most companies have several goals, whether it be to gain followers and prospects, increase brand awareness, encourage customer loyalty, or drives leads. Decide which of those goals your brand will focus on and how you’ll balance them.
Once you’ve identified your main goals, see which platforms your target audience is actively using. Because each channel is different, you’ll most likely adapt your goals to each platform’s purpose. For instance, Twitter’s audience differs from Instagram or LinkedIn, therefore your company may not even need to be on every channel.
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2. Establish Social Media Guidelines
If you’re creating your company’s first social media guidelines, spend time on the thought and execution to make a clear document. This will help everyone align on your goals and approach.
For example, will you have a different social media policy for organic versus paid? Take a look at other social media guideline templates for inspiration, and choose a digestible format for your employees. Hootsuite offers an outline of what to include in your social media guidelines, including terminology, ownership, and even hashtags and emojis.
After you’ve created a longer-form piece of social media policy, boil it down into a one-sheeter that people can scan at a glance — think bullet points! This one-sheeter should include the company’s voice and tone, examples of great, high-performing social media posts, and general do’s and don’ts for people associating themselves with your company’s different social handles.
3. Train Employees on Best Practices
Brands have stumbled time and again on social media, and those mistakes can make a huge impact on your company. Training employees on what not to do is just as important as what to do. For instance, if a customer is upset on Twitter, leave it to designated people to engage and help them out.
However, it’s not enough to create social media guidelines with do’s and don’ts. The best way to convey your company’s messaging on social media is to get a large group of people together for an engaging training session.
For example, at Justworks, I recently hosted social media training through a lunch and learn — and had no shame bribing people with pizza. (Insider tip: it always works.) During the presentation, I walked people through the basics of Justworks’ social media strategy, and offered examples of an ideal post — one that is engaging and informational.
Once you provide examples of quality, on-brand posts, quiz your audience to test their knowledge. And always leave room for questions — people will have more than you think.
4. Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce
Once you’ve dazzled your employees with an engaging presentation, take steps to make those guidelines stick.
Here are just a few ways to reinforce messaging:
- Provide a half-page handout of quick and dirty tips at the presentation
- Pass out one-sheeters with visual examples for people to keep on their desks
- Add an automatically downloadable PDF to your Slack channel whenever people ask about it
- Send out regular reminders on tips to keep them top of mind, such as through your internal company newsletter
5. Don’t Force Anything
This is the most important part about educating employees when it comes to social media guidelines.
Social media accounts are personal in many respects. Some people only like to share cute pictures. Others talk about politics, or have complete separation when it comes to work and personal accounts.
Nobody ever wants to feel forced to be their company’s cheerleader on social. Forcing employees to post anything they’re not interested in will not only make them uncomfortable, but will come across as inauthentic to their audience. Keep social interactions natural, and encourage employees to speak with their own voice and experience while keeping the context of the company guidelines in mind.
Your company policy will vary depending on your audience and goals. But no matter what kind of company your work for, employees have a powerful voice to lend to your brand and engage the community. By teaching them social media guidelines in a fun way, your brand’s presence will continue to grow — and employees themselves will feel more comfortable know what they should and shouldn’t post about the brand.