So train your employees.
The only way your company is going to get a handle on how to integrate social media into marketing and communications is to teach your employees how to do it.
That means training. It means education. It means setting up guidelines and policies. But it also means creating an environment where employees are empowered to experiment and be creative – but safely and within the framework of your organization.
That way you aren’t the next social media faux pas.
Case in point: Sports Illustrated.
Last week an unfortunate communications person at Sports Illustrated was busted trying to bribe a Digg.com power user into posting Sports Illustrated articles. You can read all the gory details over at Mashable.
We could engage in an entire debate about Digg.com and how power users continue to run the place – but that’s a topic for another time. Or you can read a blog post I did about that months ago. We’ll also ignore – for now – that the communications person was perfectly within his rights to request the power user to post SI content.
The real problem here was the attempt at bribery. According to the email by the SI coordinator posted over at Mashable, the SI communications person wrote:
“…(A)lso send me your address if you’d like to receive some SI memorabilia (books, apparel, etc.) for free.”
So last week Sports Illustrated had its brief moment in the social media hall of shame. We’ll see if there are any further repercussions other than the plethora of blog posts and tweets which took the magazine to task for its tacky and potentially unethical behavior (and apparently SI has already shutdown its SIonDigg Twitter account and the communications person has removed their LinkedIn account as well).
But the real question is: Was this the fault of the communications person? Or of Sports Illustrated?
Does Sports Illustrated have social media guidelines? Have they trained their staff on how to use social media networks?
As more companies move communications and marketing online, it is crucial to get employees trained on how to use these tools and what your company expects of them. Employees need to understand what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable when they engage online.
So is your company providing your employees with the right social media guidance?