Here’s a question: can you use social media to change the way your employees represent your brand?
The potential for social media to change attitudes towards brands from the outside is clear. I’ve blogged already about how you can turn poor customer service experiences into positive brand energy by conducting a resolution in the full view of everyone on your social media streams. But what about engineering the culture of your grand internally?
The first thing to say here is that there’s a different brand concept operating at a high level within your business than there is at lower levels. Executives and managing directors become executives and managing directors by espousing the values of your brand internally. “Footsoldier” type employees, though, have no more brand loyalty than they do loyalty to their old school or university.
In which case using the social media streams and their associated technology as a kind of internal reconditioning tool isn’t always going to work. You can use social media as a messaging tool, of course, and you can have the totems of brand culture posting exhortative messages every morning – but your average employee is as likely to feel put upon by this kind of behaviour as he or she is to feel more like an ambassador for your brand.
No, the core of brand ambassadorship is your customer – and it’s the relationship social media can build with your customer that is likely to develop a stronger internal sense of brand personality, community and responsibility.
Think back to your own experiences in customer service positions, or in lower level positions within your current industry. Where was the reward? Outside the pay check, the reward is when you get to make someone happy. A customer’s joy is a very effective method for energising even the most lackadaisical employee. Because of course half the reason for lackadaisicalness in the first place is that he employee doesn’t see any meaningful return on his or her actions. No-one smiles or says thank you anymore.
So connecting the customer to the employee through social media can force the employee into a position of brand ambassadorship that he or she has not had to display before. And that gives the potential for direct, rewarding contact with customers.
Also, as soon as your customer service employees are using the social media streams to communicate your brand message, they become your brand message. They have to. Because it’s all there written, archived for ever more. And visible written communication doesn’t go off message when you have higher level management monitoring to make sure it stays within company parameters.
There is one way internal social media technology can re-engineer a brand fidelity of course. Smile and say thanks. Remember – no-one does that anymore. So when you do you start to reclaim the hearts and minds of your employees for the brand message.
Corporate social media use is all about transparency. After a while, your employees will self-select – they’ll either get with the programme or they’ll realise there’s nowhere left to hide and they’ll quit.