How to Groom Social Media-Ready Employees

Reality check: It isn’t just the boss who gets anxious about participating in social media – so do people who work for the business. Think about it – new tools, new responsibilities and a greater risk of accidentally saying something in public and embarrassing themselves (or the company)? Yikes. Why would an employee voluntarily step out into social media on behalf of the company they work for? Well, perhaps because you need them to.

Grooming social media-ready employees is essential in helping to spread company awareness, building trust and creating a more unified brand. But before your employees can hop on board and help the company achieve its social media objectives, you first you must help them feel comfortable participating. You need to groom them for social media success.

How can you do that? Below are a few tips to help you calm employees’ fears and help them become social media superstars for your brand.

Help Them See Its Purpose

As people, we don’t like adding new tasks to our plate unless we understand their purpose and/or benefit. But once we do see and understand their importance, we’re much more open to completing them. We want to help the company we work for; we just want to know how to do it in a safe way.

If you want employees to feel comfortable engaging in social media, your first step is to show them why social media is important to business initiatives, what the company plans to achieve, and how their participation is vital to that success. Once you lay this foundation, you’ll have a much easier time getting them on board.

Teach Them How to Engage

This one is really important. If you haven’t created a corporate social media policy for your employees to follow, you’re essentially throwing them in the deep end of the pool without first teaching them how to swim. Don’t look at your social media policy as something intended to restrict or control employee social media use; look it as the guide they need to help them engage better. A good social media policy will lay out best practices for representing the brand, explain how to handle common issues that may come up, and even include possible conversation starters. These are invaluable tools for an employee who may not be sure how to engage in social media or how to do it safely. By teaching people how to use social media, you build their confidence and help remove their fears.

Make Social Media an Everyday Tool

Make social media part of your team’s everyday job. The same way they have to check email and answer customer service calls, they should be tasked with “checking in” on the various social media sites to see what customers are talking about and starting conversations within your community. If you try to fragment social media away from the rest of their day, they’ll never see it as part of their job function, and it won’t stick. By turning social media into an everyday tool that they can use to collect feedback, ask questions and see what’s of interest to the company’s audience, you reinforce its importance to the company.

Let Them Focus on One Network

You know which networks are most important for your audience. However, pick just one to let employees get their feet wet with. By focusing on one tool, you allow them to feel comfortable experimenting and give them the time they need to master that site before you throw them into another. This will help them be more successful and it will also prevent them from making the same mistake on multiple different sites. Give them the time they need to get established before you introduce them to all the different social media channels.

Highlight and Reward Successes

Whether we’re talking about in-house success or case studies you’ve stumbled across elsewhere, showing your team real-life examples of social media campaigns that worked and how social media helped a company achieve larger goals is a great way to teach and inspire your team. We all work better when we have a model for what we’re doing. Help your team see the rewards of social media by not only providing examples of how these tools can be used, but also letting them see instances where brands have achieved great success.

If you are highlighting in-house successes, considering doing it publicly or offering a small reward for a job well done. By offering members of your staff a little something for taking on a new challenge and doing it well, it only not promotes their accomplishment within the company, but it also shows employees you value what they’re doing and that you recognize their hard work.

Every business can benefit from having social media-ready employees, people who act as the face of your brand and increase exposure and goodwill. But before you can send employees out into the world, you need to groom them for a more public role. The tips listed above should help you get started on that process.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

6 Reactions
  1. I really like the idea of having employees focus on one tool. I wonder if you suggest focusing the effort of all employees on a few specific tools or if you advocate a more diverse policy wherein employees focus efforts individually on a much wider variety of social media outlets?

  2. How would you feel about offering compensation (or incentives) for employees who do particularly well with social media?

  3. I love that you included: Teach Them How to Engage… as many are missing the point of social media marketing, which is, conversation that matters. It’s only natural to have this fear as you’ll become a brand ambassador for the business; it’s like being called on stage to make a speech in front of a huge audience. In the end, these employees must have the passion in your brand, before they can spread the goodwill about it on the Social Web.

  4. All very good points. From the lawyer’s perspective, it is also important to make sure that employees are properly trained on what not to say in social media in order to avoid creating potential liabilities for the company. From respecting third-party copyrights to following strict FTC guidelines on endorsements, there are a number of issues that need to be considered. Having policies in place and maintaining training and oversight programs are well worth the investment.

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