By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog. You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. http://bit.ly/1cKPcjn
Business executives often want the secret to “going viral” for their brand when it comes to social media.
Yet, the concept of viral marketing is nothing more than “influencer marketing,” says Olivier Taupin who owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members. “There’s confusion about first steps, though,” says the social media expert. “People are doing tactics before setting up their distribution networks.”
A social media influencer can be defined in two ways: First, by the number of followers the person has on social media. Second, by the expertise demonstrated on their subject.
Last week in this blog, we talked about Stage One: Change the Mindset. We asked you to do these 3 things:
- Train your employees and trust them;
- Link everybody;
- Agree that responsibility for becoming the eyes and ears of a company belongs to everyone—not just the receptionist.
Stage 2: Establish your distribution networks
The list of networks—each with its own personality, rules of engagement, and secrets to discover–now count over 800. More are added weekly. The Big 5 are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goooge+, and LinkedIn; Instagram and Pinterest are strong in certain categories and Periscope is picking up steam. LinkedIn and Twitter are the two networks we favour for C-Suite business in addition to requesting permission from employees to engage their personal networks on Facebook.
First: Find the influencers among your employees. These individuals could be authorities in a variety of subjects on Facebook and have major accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter. You will never know unless you carry out a social audit to discover how your employees participate in their networks. Also think about reaching out to customers, partners and sponsors who have the potential to become company champions.
Step 2: Send a letter to all employees asking for help by explaining their contribution benefits everyone. Employees benefit by increasing their social influencer score for their own careers. Imagine the reach sparked by your company if 1,000 employees tweeted favourably on the arrival of a new vice president, launch of a new product or results of a community event hosted by your company. Think about the powerful reach when everyone retweets!
One way to find your influencers is to check for Klout scores. Klout is a number between 1 and 100 that represents social impact. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout where the ideal score is above 60.
On the company side, an organization benefits if employees agree to:
- Use their personal Facebook accounts from time-to-time to like, share and comment about their place of work. Of course, this is delicate ground and all privacy settings must be respected;
- Re-tweet, favourite, and comment on Twitter,
- Like, share and comment their company’s LinkedIn updates.
Step 3: Educate your organization on influencer marketing and the use of social media. Here’s why:
- Employees understand the culture and customers of their company;
- Brands leverage word-of-mouth through personalities that consumers follow and admire;
- Those with social authority have a wider reach. They often are researched by followers who value their opinion;
- Content published by influencers is considered worth their followers’ time;
- Influencers engage their followers on topics of mutual interest;
- Experts keep themselves informed about their industry and form respected opinions on their industry.
Here’s an example of how influencer marketing worked beautifully for Technology Concepts Group (TCG) of Illinois which recently partnered with IBM. They collaborated in the development of Predictive Analytics and the new service was being launched at IBM’s conference that drew over 21,000 delegates with 200 breakout sessions, 13 keynotes and 3 general sessions.
We identified important technical bloggers inside and outside IBM as well as tech journalists. All were followed on the IBM Twitter conference hashtag with introductions carried over to LinkedIn. People watched the TCG story evolve and the owners found themselves with a growing list of contacts on both networks.
Step 4: Grow Distribution
People expect brands to talk with them rather than at them. They no longer expect brands to sell to them, but to entertain and inform them. In every case, the CEO connects with key employees. Here’s 12 additional tips:
- On Twitter, all employees are encouraged to follow each other. Otherwise, people view you as a broadcaster who doesn’t really want to hear back from anyone. Networks are about engagement;
- Company champions are invited to like the company page on LinkedIn and FB;
- Encourage participation in industry conversation.This increases the chance that your Tweets will be seen – and that people who see it will follow you and become customers;
- Everyone is invited to use the #company and #division hashtags published on Twitter bios to make it easier to like, comment and share;
- LinkedIn does not fully support hashtags. Therefore, Olivier recommends creating a unique handle with a key word for participants in this professional network;
- Pay special attention to all those who retweeted and favourited comments on Twitter which helps to increase influence. Do the same for updates on LinkedIn and posts on FB. Remember it’s pay-to-play on FB;
- Annual general meetings give ample opportunity to recognize outstanding employees and important sponsors that lead to finding new customers;
- Establish a private group on LinkedIn and FB around interests of the company. Rather than using the name of your financial investment enterprise, create a group around retiring with wealth;
- On LinkedIn: Ensure your company is registered. Otherwise, employees cannot like the company page;
- All participants are encouraged to get 500 connections on LinkedIn. Unit heads help their employees to identify potential contacts;
- As ever, common sense prevails when involving the entire company and its wider community when sharing information, recognizing confidential documents, and posting personal images;
- Above all: Employees are reminded they are not being judged. However, they are asked to respect company social media policies by not posting personal comments on company time.
The lines have blurred between offline and virtual life. This means there are many new opportunities to enhance your company by involving employees and champions as you grow together.
Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.
Valuable information for firms with employees. Interesting to try to extrapolate relevancy to solopreneurs or really small home based businesses.
Sharon A.M. MacLean
I see the application for solopreneurs, too, Roslyn. My small biz clients can use the same stratgey by asking their best clients…vendors…any community partners and aligned networkers to participate.
Kristen Wilson (@k10wilson)
Great stuff, as always Sharon. Lots of excellent tips.. Companies need to learn how to harness and take advantage of their biggest assets, their employees… their front line support!
Sharon A.M. MacLean
Yep – I really think the company that jumps on board with these strategies gains a great, new edge.
Carol Adamy Rundle
It’s amazing how calculated social media has become. Instead of allowing people to discover you, corporations seek to control everything.
Sharon A.M. MacLean
Not sure I agree with that interpretation, Carol. We are encouraging employees to help spread good vices about a place they enjoy working at. Everyone wins.
NYC Fitness Family Finds
Got me thinking thanks!
Tanya Smith (@TweetTanyaSmith)
Great tips Sharon, and so applicable for today’s workplace environment. Creating an open partnership with employees to promote the brand is a smart move, especially when you properly arm them with the tools to do so.
Sharon A.M. MacLean
I think the company that engages this strategy will move ahead of the crowd, Tanya.
Jackie Harder (@keydynamics)
Excellent points all. One of the things employers are having a hard time “getting” is how important social media is to their business and that the old rules regarding using social media on company time just aren’t appropriate anymore. And can, in fact, be damaging.
Sharon A.M. MacLean
I think it will take time, Jackie. It’s so much easier if we can first start with the CEO who does “get” it .
Wedding Cake Toppers (@unique1topper)
This is very valuable information! Very well written article!