Social media has transformed the way we communicate. Data from the PEW Research Center shows that 74 percent of adults who use the internet have at least one social media account. For many Americans, social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit are where we get our news, where we keep in touch with people and organizations we care about, and where we spend a significant amount of our time online.
Because of the power and influence of social media, many businesses are incorporating social learning strategies into their employee training and customer outreach programs, hoping that people will use these tools for business with as much consistency and enthusiasm as they do in their personal lives.
Unfortunately, this has been done with mixed results.
The social media challenge
In some cases, corporate-sponsored social media has proven to be an effective tool during employee onboarding by helping new employees connect with coworkers and learn about the company culture and policies. Modern businesses are also racing to incorporate social media into their customer relationship management (CRM) strategies, in the hope that customers will appreciate and engage with the convenient online offerings and messages.
In spite of widespread popularity, though, company social media sometimes still fails to capture the attention of new and existing employees and customers. Here are three common problems that tend to come up in any corporate-sponsored social media program, along with practical solutions that can re-energize your company’s social media strategy.
1) People don’t understand how to use social media tools
Chances are, not all of your employees or customers are young, computer-savvy millennials. It’s easy to forget in our media-heavy, tech-saturated world that not everyone feels comfortable using online networking tools. If you have older employees or others who may be late adopters to technology - or if your business is aimed at an older audience - you’ll need to spend more time figuring out how to make the experience of using these online tools comfortable.
2) Employees fail to adopt the company’s social media tools long-term
Sometimes employees will be gung-ho to participate in business-sponsored social media during training but this enthusiasm will trail off shortly after the technology is introduced.
This disconnect can be a result of many different problems. Perhaps your employees aren’t collaborating enough with themselves, customers and whomever else you would like them to be interacting with on social media. In this case, some extra training or rethinking of workflow procedures might be necessary.
On the other hand, employees may simply be more comfortable communicating with your business’s audience in other ways, such as over the phone or in person. If this is the case, then a lack of engagement with social media tools might not actually be a problem.
Employees and customers rarely engage with company social media.
This might be a symptom of general social media burnout. People are most familiar with using social media for personal reasons and it might be difficult to convince them to engage in a professional or consumer capacity on top of that. In fact, according to a 2016 PEW Research study, the biggest reason people ever use social media at work is to “take a mental break from their job.”
The solution to this burnout is simple: Don’t make your company’s social media a chore. Understand that people often want to keep their personal and business lives separate, which might require the creation of a new, work-only social media account. Keep it light until people are familiar with the value and functionality of your social media tools. Then, let your people come to your social media offerings organically.
The better you know your employees, your customers and their needs, the more success you will have with a corporate-sponsored social media plan. The key is authenticity and if you use your company’s identity as the foundation for your social media strategy, you will find that these tools are more than just a passing trend—they are the future of social learning and workplace collaboration.
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