I have a confession to make. I’m a millennial. Technically, I’m on the cusp between millennials and whatever came before that (yes, I do know what a cassette is), but I grew up in the age of the internet and have the attention span of a caffeinated hummingbird. Your company probably employs several people like me, and in time, will bring on even more. Even a few of your clients may be millennials. And while a tendency to prefer email to a phone call may drive you crazy, this group has a definite set of talents that can help your company in its future marketing efforts.
Case in point: Social media.
I am a strong proponent of social media as an important mode of networking and brand development. Chances are many of your employees are already active in social media, be it through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or a plethora of networks you haven’t yet heard of. Chances are your company also has some level of social media presence, whether you have sanctioned it or not. Hopefully it’s in the form of a blog, a company profile on LinkedIn, or an active Twitter account. But even if you don’t have an official social media presence, your employees probably identify themselves as part of your company on their various personal and/or professional profiles, and be it on company time or personal time, they make up your brand’s touchpoint to the online world. As such, your employees represent a huge branding opportunity for your company.
How do you leverage the wealth of social media expertise and enthusiasm that’s hiding in your ranks?
1. Don’t stifle it. Don’t be one of those companies that blocks Twitter and other social media sites at work. Not only does it foster frustration and bad will among those who want to utilize it, but you’re sending a clear message: you have no interest in your employees’ online networking.
2. Encourage social media and give your employees the tools they need to increase your brand positioning. Provide a short company boilerplate for your employees to include on their LinkedIn profiles and set up a clear social media policy that outlines the do’s and don’ts in relation to your brand. Ask your employees to Tweet your company’s whitepapers or blog posts. Better yet, ask them to write a blog article. You may receive an enthusiastic response from someone you didn’t expect. Social media provides inexpensive ways to assert your thought leadership or establish your corporate personality. In the end and with the proper training, it can generate new leads for your company.
Hubspot (March 2010) “The State of Inbound Lead Generation: Analysis of lead generation best practices used by over 1,400 small- and medium-sized businesses”
Just remember – many millennials are expert multitaskers. (At present, I’m writing a blog article, creating a proposal presentation, and responding to a former client on LinkedIn.) As Jay Shepherd points out in a recent article on law firm social media the new generation of professionals simply thinks differently. You can’t assume that Facebook will zap productivity. If it does, then by all means, block it. But until that time, you can use your employees’ multitasking, social network enthusiasm to your advantage and build a strong online presence for the future.
Do you encourage online networking in your company? What kind of a response do you get from employees?