Everyone at Your Startup Can Have a Voice on Social Media (And That Should Be the Policy!)

Is there a way for my startup to launch a minimal-risk social sales program?

(744 words too much for you right now? Feel free to call me to discuss! You can also watch the video by Cornell and then call me)

Historically, the answer would be no, as the legal and social “Risks” of allowing Social Media usage was assumed to outweigh the possible “Rewards” of a well-executed social sales programs.

We have seen rising stars in the digital marketing arena achieve great personal success with well-executed social media policies. We have also seen the fall of stars in digital marketing that avoided the social media policies of their companies.

The barrier of the Zero Tolerance Policy with social is lowering and while it still seems to be difficult to navigate, a historical review of the changing behavior of the customers in their buyer’s journey is a valuable piece of knowledge that I am excited to share with you. Below is a snap shot of several different professional roles and their own progression into social media for large B2B startups.

Perspective of the Individual Contributor:

A few years ago, the VP of Sales of a company I worked with at the time, launched a small proof of concept on the value of a sales associate using the social sites LinkedIn and Twitter to sell. As an individual contributor and new hire, under his pilot I was able to obtain 160% of my number using these social sites within six short months. The following year, we did an interview with “This Week in Sales” and we discussed the method of how a sales representative could use this to close deals. What was not discussed was“Zero Tolerance Policy” that the company had at the time for employee use of social media.

Perspective of the Human Resources Professional:

This Zero Tolerance Policy was not unique to the company. In January of 2012, SHRM published the Social Media Outreach Survey, which showed that 40% of organizations had a formal social media policy and these policies commonly incorporated the following:

  • a code of conduct for employee use of social networking for professional purposes (68%),

  • a code of conduct for employee use of social networking for personal purposes (66%), or

  • guidelines for appropriate social media communications (55%)

Perspective of the B2B Executive:

Just seven months later and on the tail of the SHRM study, Mckinsey Global Institute (MGI) published “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies” (July 2012). According to this McKinsey report, when social technologies are used within and across the enterprises, they have the following effects:

  • 10 to 30% reduction on the cost of obtaining customer insights

  • 20 to 25% increase in knowledge workers performance

McKinsey surveyed executives from 4,200 companies and 70% reported that they were using social technologies in some way, 90% of those said that they were seeing some degree of business benefits. They also cited that only 3% of companies had any sort of social media policy that supported their employees with social media technologies.

Today’s perspective:

The span of four years has truly changed the business landscape when it comes to social media. Today’s Individual Contributors, Human Resource Professionals and Executives alike have deployed or are deploying social media strategies. To support the needs of the enterprise, social technologies have become a budgeted line item. Social Networks in their own right have ushered in tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator™ that drive the opportunities of our sales force. Even with all of this change happening, there is still the need to understand how to execute a well-designed and thought-out social media program.

If you are embarking on the pursuit of a Social Sales Program or Employee Advocacy Program, I will share some tribal knowledge with you: “You should not go at it alone." If you’re figuring out how to leverage your own social assets, yet don’t know how to work around existing social media policies, I would love to connect learn what you are trying to accomplish and see if we at Productio can help in any way.

Watch this video and please feel free to connect with me if you are looking for help!