Social Business has been a big catch phrase lately in Social Media. It is one of those fraudulent terms to make something that has been around for 1000′s of years sound new and fresh. Of course the primary reason is for Social Media Agencies and Talking Heads to make money selling books and services that Brands really don’t need.
The basic premise sounds great. Your employees are on the front lines and who better to be your voice and brand advocate than your employees. But do they care? The bottom 80% in the US have only 15% of the wealth. The bottom 60% of the US on average make less than $41,000 per household. This means that easily the bottom 60% of jobs make $30,000 or less which is not very much. So upfront the fact is chances are your front line employees especially in retail and service jobs (think working at Jiffy Lube or being a Waiter) make very little. To them it is ‘just a job’. You want them being your voice and front lines on social media? Really? But you can change that!
If you really want to be a ‘Social Business’ these are the 5 Tips Businesses aren’t being told:
1] Pay your employees more. If this is a job vs a career you will never get them to participate because they won’t care. Especially as employment gets tighter they can jump ship easily. I suggest paying your employees in the Top 25% for those job descriptions.
2] Invest in your employees. Show them you care and that you want them to stay. Offer improved job training and opportunities for advancement. Imagine a FourSquare check in on Twitter ‘In Management Training! This is my chance Woohoo! Love my company!’
3] Improve their working conditions. Little perks like free coffee mean a lot. Bigger perks like a paid day of work on their birthday mean even more.
4] Lead by example. The top mangers need to walk the walk and also be part of the front lines. Be on Twitter or Blogging and interacting with customers, vendors and employees. The biggest obstacle to getting employees to do anything is when they feel upper management should be doing something required of them and they aren’t.
5] Make it fun. Give them incentives. For every employee called out by a customer on Twitter or your Facebook Page get’s a $10 ITunes card. Give employees coupons to give away to customers and friends on social media. Today only use Coupon Code 1234 and get 15% off your purchase at our online store. Encourage them to create YouTube videos that are fun and meet certain guidelines (Think Harlem Shake) and the ones with the most views get company paid lunch.
Now that you know how to be a Social Business what do you think? Will you need to make significant organizational changes? Are you willing to spend more on employees? The rewards could be significant. You could have a positive and energized workforce. They can then create a positive and energized customer based. And I bet if that happened you would recoup that investment. But I guarantee most Social Business Evangelists fail to explain that most employees just won’t care or want to be social for you unless you create the conditions I outlined above.