social mediaHeard the rumor? Word is that everybody who works for you is actually in marketing. Most of us probably understand that, given the way social media have permeated our culture, workplace implications are inevitable and widespread. It’s been considered best practice for a while now to give employees social media training and guidelines for use, if not actual tips and tricks for promoting you successfully.

But what I’m addressing here goes a bit deeper than (1) realizing your employees are using social media and (2) coming up with rules about it. To realize that all your employees can (and do) serve a marketing function raises fundamental issues of company identity. When employees talk about, or on behalf of, where they work, the truth will out: even if that truth is just “Here’s another lame Facebook post because my boss asked me to.”

Will the Real Company Please Stand Up?

So you distributed with much fanfare an extensively researched document of social media guidelines to your team. So you trained your colleagues to talk you up on Twitter. Good things. But how much did you think about authenticity when you did it – who your company really is at this point in time? Social media by its nature brings the conversation back to the real. Employees’ job-related social media behavior is a true plumb of who your company is, and isn’t.

At root social media is about people truly inspired to share something with their friends – an experience, a photo, a joke, an accomplishment, a bad moment, an insight. Sure, like anything else it can be finessed or faked – for a while. But most users sniff out the false pretty quickly, and the already-forbidding barriers to their engagement get even more like razor wire.

As an example of social media truly reflecting company culture, Zappos is a popular go-to. But the hair studio also profiled in this article is more interesting to me. No interviews in ball pits, no in-your-face-simplistic social media policies. Just authentic sharing of what employees are really doing and who they’re helping, both on the job and off. This kind of real sharing via social media anybody can do, and do well.

Authentic Doesn’t Always Mean Cool

Chances are you are neither Zappos nor a hair salon, but who are you? To talk persuasively about yourself, through your own content channels or through your employees’ social media channels, you have to know yourself and then work with your strengths. And remember:

  1. Being authentic doesn’t mean no rules.
  2. Being authentic might mean acknowledging the negative.
  3. Being authentic is the only thing that really keeps people’s attention.
  4. Being authentic builds trust.

Do your employees tweet about you? Because they’re prompted or because they like to? Does tweeting even make sense with your company’s real identity? For that matter, have you thought about your company’s real identity lately? Because I’d bet good money your employees have an opinion.

Let us know – EVG would love to hear where you’re at with employees using social media.

If you enjoyed this post from Emily, check out her other blog posts

Emily SmithContent Writer and Editor

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