One of the most under-utilized and often over-feared aspects of social media marketing is the ability to leverage employees and staff to communicate on behalf of the brand. Now, there are certainly more than a few reasons to ask that employees not interact on business-related conversations in the social space: the need to control brand messaging, unpredictable staff, human resource concerns, etc.
However, there are also reasons to do the exact opposite and mobilize your workforce to communicate with your customers online: put a face (or faces) behind the brand, leverage everyone's expertise, grow and nurture real relationships with customers and so one. It particularly makes sense to mobilize your workforce in B2B communications because it offers a means for your sales force to grow relationships with clientele.
Educate Then Mobilize
There is risk in mobilizing your workforce, but risk can be minimized and benefits can be maximized by getting everyone on the same page, setting guidelines and communicating best practices.
Establish a policy. Create a social media policy that protects your employees and your company. Outline what is okay (e.g., addressing questions) and what is not (e.g., sharing proprietary information). Encourage your employees by letting them know that this is intended to protect them as well as the company.
Agree on rules of engagement. Make it clear to employees when it's okay to participate in conversation, when it isn't and what to do when responding (e.g., providing full disclosure). Give employees enough support and enough guidelines to allow them to feel confident in their understanding and ability to converse in the social space.
Provide best in practice guidance by offering training on how to use the tools best suited for connecting with consumers as well as provide guidance on content. They should use their professional social networks to offer context when sharing information, provide business-related advice and tips and connect personally with consumers by showcasing their personalities.
Make experts and establish credibility. The benefit for your employees engaging is it positions them as experts, thus making your brand appear more credible. They can use tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to provide guidance, share news relevant to consumers and offer tips/ answer questions.
Leverage What You Have
The most social brands will have a major challenge when it comes to interacting with all of the customers that require their attention in the social space. It's a big job for one person or a small team, but a workforce excited to use social media to interact with consumers while following the rules of engagement is an untapped opportunity. Whether or not it's the right approach for your business depends upon several factors, but if it is, set your brand up for success by establishing a policy, educating personnel appropriately and using their efforts to better your brand's overall social media efforts.