I’m a firm believer that no one should “own” social.
Owning social does not only lead to bias, but it is usually not scalable. As everything I do is through the lens of a global, multi-branded enterprise, I’m big on scalability. And it doesn’t get more scalable than employee advocacy.
At Hilton Worldwide, we have a team of 100+ employee advocates that tweet through the @HiltonSuggests handle. We’ve been doing this 3+ years, long before employee advocacy was the buzzword it is today.
When people learn of this program, they are usually shocked by two things:
- The team is not made up of full-time dedicated staff. It is comprised of Hilton Worldwide employees around the globe and is integrated into their daily job responsibilities.
- That a company like Hilton Worldwide let’s 100+ people tweet on behalf of a corporate handle.
The second idea is what I want to dive into today.
There are usually several questions that follow:
- How did you gain legal and executive approval to do this?
- How can you trust your employees to not tweet something offensive or embarrassing?
- How do you mitigate risk?
- How do you “keep tabs” on what they’re doing?
I never cease to be amazed by these questions and how frequently they come up no matter where or to whom I’m presenting. To me this is really quite simple and straight forward: Hire good people, train them, and empower them to succeed.
But therein lies the problem. When you press further and look around at the social media blunders that take place on an all too often basis, we realize that good talent is not only hard to find, it is hard to keep. And we need to think very differently about our employee relations than we did in days past.
We live in an age of uber publicity. Everything today is public. Private and confidential documents are easily leaked, private messages can become public, and emails meant for a few can spread like wildfire.
Everyone is sharing and we need to ensure our employees understand the implications in this new world.
Furthermore, we need to hire, train, and retain based on culture like never before. Today almost everyone’s private life is displayed on social media and just because you haven’t given your employees permission to do so doesn’t mean they aren’t out there representing your brand.
This can either be a really good thing, or a really bad thing.
These opportunities are no longer optional. Pretty soon it won’t be only about the brand. It’s possibly fair to say that it is officially not about the brands. Brands have been trying to do advocacy marketing for years but who is a better advocate than your employee? And as Jay Baer says, “If your employee isn’t your biggest advocate, you’ve got much bigger problems than social media.”
So, I want to offer up a controversial statement: Stop worrying so much about your social media strategy. Instead, schedule some time with HR and ask them about their strategy.
With more and more people foregoing traditional employment opportunities and instead exploring freelancing, what are you doing to recruit, train, and retain the best talent? Are you training them on how to develop a personal brand? Are you enhancing their job skill set in creative ways to keep them enticed and engaged? Are you setting up opportunities to empower them to achieve success? If not, at the very least I’m sure a quick Twitter search will reveal some complaints from employees.
I’m insanely passionate about Hilton Suggests because it has provided a vehicle for our employees to do more, to stretch their limits, and grow their job skill set in creative ways. This should be celebrated.
Going back to why social shouldn’t be “owned” – some of our best tweeters have been chefs, HR managers, and catering managers. These aren’t usually the go-to resources for social media marketing, but the content they produce is some of the most relevant, compelling, and authentic destination content available. They represent us every single day offline, so why would we be worried about them doing the same thing online?
Which camp does your company fall into? Do you have crazy passionate employees you should be leveraging and just need to figure out the process by which do so? Or do you have a serious HR issue on your hands and you need to educate your company on the fact that they won’t be able to source and retain good talent if they don’t get creative?
Whichever one it is, I believe the social media strategist should spearhead the conversation. So yes, get ready to add the HR strategy feather to your cap.