Why is a personal brand important for a company in social media? Because consumers don’t want to interact with a “company” or “brand” they want to interact with the people behind a brand. That’s why people won’t follow “Dell” because it’s a company, but they will follow Richard at Dell or Lionel at Dell because they give that company the personal interaction with their consumers. As a result of that, people will want to become connected with your company or organization, look at the iCabal, the Apple fanatics who are incredibly tied in with the Mac brand, because they have probably been influenced by the Mac Evangelist crowd (and/or they are easily led by shiny things. 🙂 )
(Just kidding, relax y’all.)
Companies can’t interact with people. The people in your company can.
You have to make sure that the right people in your company are interacting with those people. That’s one of the strengths of PR people working on your social media team, PR people are great at connecting with people – it’s our job, heck it’s in the job title “Public Relations.” Who in your organization can you trust with the social interactions with your customers?
What are some of the ways people in your organization can get involved in social media? Here are a few of my ideas, what would you like to see your organization do to open up and engage more online?
- Set guidelines, not restrictions – you want to have guidelines that people blogging/tweeting/etc for your company need to follow (think of them as talking points for your evangelists, why do they rock?) But you don’t want to restrict what they can say too much.
- You don’t need to vet everything that’s said – your employees, check that, the employees who love your company (and these are the ones who should be representing you) should not have to run everything by the legal department. You trust your customer service team in India to represent your company without running every statement through the mothership, you should trust your social media employees to do the same.
- Who in your company is already blogging? – Who’s already doing it? Can you pay them to be part of the social media team at your company? Why reinvent the wheel? Take these people on a long weekend retreat to Vegas, or the fun destination of your choice and intersperse some workshops on developing your social media team in between visits to the casino/park/hiking trail/etc.
- Are there any free agents out there? –Is there anyone in your organization, or someone that one of your employees might know, who is already active in social media and social networking? If so, you might want to consider offering them a job to produce your content. They have an audience already established, and you might be able to attract some of them to your new brand. And at the same time, if you are working on your own personal brand, you can learn quite a bit from your new free agent star.
- Who should represent the company? – Your new free agent? How about the guys you have on the team already? What about the CEO? Is he/she tech savvy and interested in this communications medium? If not, it would be better for them to give up the reins here and let the people in the know take the lead, then report successes and concerns to the CEO.
- Experiment, experiment, experiment! There are a lot of kinds of social media out there, what works the best not only for your company, but for your team? Remember, there are some pieces of social media that work best as entrees, and others as appetizers. Maybe your video person loves working on video but has a voice that would only be improved by gargling with rusty razor blades. Then he shouldn’t lead the podcasting. Your podcast guru has that smooth radio voice but can’t hold a camera steady long enough for a picture, then you don’t need them leading up your Flickr stream. Different people have different strengths, what tools are out there to augment them and how can you combine them?
- Training – Cross train your team, turn them into backpack journalists – able to develop news across all kinds of new media.
What other advice would you add for leaders interested in getting their people involved with their customers, competition, and colleagues?