Large companies spent millions of dollars a year aligning themselves with social media brand advocates. They figure the average person will be more interested and open to a referral from a non-related third party, then a social media mention from the company itself. But what about your own employees? Should they be brand advocates, too?
Earlier today, Frank wrote about the Twitter board members who don’t Tweet. It’s weird, right? You’re high up in a company but you don’t use, let alone evangelize the service?
On the other end of the spectrum is MasterCard. They’re spending company money and time to get all 7,500 employees up to social media speed with the hope that they’ll all be brand advocates for their employer. I can’t decide if this is a good idea or bad idea.
An article in Digiday explains how MasterCard is relaxing the rules to give employees more freedom to speak online. They’re also running social media classes so everyone has a basic understanding of how Twitter, Facebook and the others work.
As Cohen explained, a lot of people across the organization just needed help with the first steps of getting into social media, as simple as how to set up an account. The session was recorded and turned into shorter videos that focus on each platform. MasterCard also created a special section on its intranet site called MC Mashup to house the social media tutorial videos for company-wide use and as a place for people to ask questions and share information.
They took it a step further with the implementation of the YoPros program where younger employees mentor older employees one-on-one. As an “older” employee, I think I’m offended. Then again, I did need my son to help me with my Instagram account. Turns out it wasn’t that I didn’t understand how to use it, it was simply that I didn’t understand why people would use it. (Too much input for me!)
The article goes on to talk about how these social media classes are enriching the lives of their employees. Grandma can now get on Facebook to see the photos of the grandkids. Sweet.
Let’s not miss the point here. MasterCard isn’t training their employees out of the goodness of their heart. They’re expecting to be paid back in good social media wishes. Even if only half their staff mentions MasterCard in a Tweet or Facebook post once a day, that’s a lot of free exposure.
But what happens the first time an employee uses social media to air his grievances against the company? I’ll bet that’s covered in the new social media posting handbook. Positive is encouraged – negative will get you fired. (I don’t know that, I’m just guessing. . . )
How do you feel about enlisting your employees to be brand advocates? Are you comfortable with the concept or concerned about the potential risks? It’s not just about individual Tweets. If you have an employee who likes to post wild party pictures do you want their bio to read “Employee of the Month at XYZ, Inc.?”
A company social media policy isn’t just for the big boys. If you have employees, you need rules about what they should and shouldn’t say in a public forum.