When brands begin developing a social media strategy, they often are unaware that some employees have already started using social media on behalf of the brand. In many cases, no one realizes that these profiles even exist until after a social media strategy has been developed. While a gut reaction might be to think that these employees have done something wrong or wasted valuable time and resources, their online presence could actually provide powerful insight into your brand’s future in social media.
Search Before You Strategize
You’ve made the decision to discover how social media can help your brand grow. You’ve discussed social media with key executives and even began talking to your trusted agency partners. This is the time to search for LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts, Facebook Pages and other social media profiles that were created by employees who were curious about these new trends in online marketing.
Employees who have been using social media to increase productivity—as well as those who gave it a shot and didn’t get much out of it—can provide valuable insight about what worked, and what didn’t. Reach out to employees to find out if they have experimented with social media and let them know you want them to be involved. Those who “get it” may end up being key players in your social media strategy.
Use Their Experience
Your employees may have already used LinkedIn to find new clients, or used Twitter to respond to customer-service related issues (perhaps without getting proper buy-in from their managers). These experiences can provide firsthand knowledge about how a Social CRM (customer relationship manager) program might perform for your brand or what type of content customers or clients have found most interesting.
Call a meeting with key executives from each department as well as the employees who have used social media on behalf of the brand. Use this opportunity to share experiences, talk about what worked well and find out why other efforts did not work as well as hoped. Discuss how social media can be used by each department. How does it fit in? How can it improve performance?
Don’t Throw Away Their Progress
Now the question: What do you do with all these profiles and pages? Chances are your customers and clients have been using them to communicate with your brand. Shutting down these profiles will leave your them in the dark. While some of these branded profiles may end up being integrated into the final social media strategy, others should be phased out slowly and carefully.
If your brand is not yet participating in social media, there is a chance your employees may have been curious to see if social media could work for them. Did your employees begin utilizing social media on their own? Tell us about it in the comments.