Motivating Employees, Brand Advocates and Social Business

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In a recent discussion with young entrepreneurs I mentioned that social media adoption in companies in Germany still is far behind other countries like the US. Someone replied: „That is because in Germany the people actually work in their working hours.“

This remark took me slightly off guard, and I had to ask Jonathan if I got that comment right? Surely, I must have misunderstood? But my ears did not deceive me.

Sorry to be so drastic: This guy simply does not get social. He does not understand social business. And he has no clue how to utilize social media for business.

When I was still working as a consultant, sometimes I used client’s computers for working. And some of our clients had multiple websites including Facebook and some major news-sites blocked from Internet access for their employees. Apart from the fact that I think this is totally useless – If your employees do not want to work for you, they will find ways to pass their time anyway – in case of social media, some serious rethinking should be done.

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I am not sure how German corporations (or companies in other countries) treat internet access for their employees today. My mentioned experience was some years ago. But people like this young entrepreneur I met recently are probably totally in line with blocking Facebook and other web diversions to make sure employees “actually work”.

Holy shit – is he missing out!Trust your employees and turn them into brand advocates and your business into a social business. It is hard but pays off multifold.

Let me give you an example: This year saw some major security breaks in open source code. I cannot give details, as I am no developer. Internet companies had to react to this issue, to make sure their client’s data was still safe with them. A developer and friend of ours posted on Facebook about how his company treated this issue: He was totally proud to be part of the fast and customer friendly way his company solved the problem. And all his Facebook friends (including me) saw not only a proud developer but were also reminded of the interesting service his company offers. (We are actually discussing using the service in the near future right now.)

So instead of blocking the access to Facebook for some unsatisfied employees, this company has happy employees talking on Facebook about how great the company is they work for. And how great they solve problems that arise.

Can you see the difference this makes? One company has unsatisfied employees talking about the stupid treatment of Internet access by their employer – the other has their employees bragging on Facebook about the great service, the great developer team and how proud they are to work for this company.

(Also – news like the one about this massive security leak travel much faster around through the use of social media. Wouldn’t you like to be the first to know?)

People will talk anyway

If you are afraid of your employees talking bad about you on social media sites you have a serious problem. People talk. It is part of our nature that we talk about something with which we spend such a great portion of our lives. And we especially talk about things that are going wrong. And Social Media takes some part of this talking public. Just as with customer service: Trying to hide something that is going wrong, is getting harder – and often fires back. The better way to solve this is to solve the real problem (unhappy employees or customers).

Some would argue that there is no worse publicity than no publicity – and social media is a media channel. Like every media channel, there are good and bad stories. And there are companies that don’t exist at all.

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You will not really lose working time – and you will gain recognition

I am not a great fan of counting every minute people spend working as long as the work gets done and people are involved and motivated. I also think a short chat over coffee often brings the best ideas and solutions. A glance to the left and right is seldom wrong.

I recently read a post about productivity. For each hour of work, I should spend 50 min concentrating on some hard work and 10 min letting my thoughts wander, reading some easy to swallow information or simply chat with colleagues.

Trying to keep your employees from spending these 10 mins relaxing, will not make you gain productivity. It will lose you a lot of motivation and willingness for hard work. At the same time, your employees could be spending these relaxing 10 min. on social media mentioning your great company once in a while and the great work, they just completed. Increasing employee moral AND positive talk about your company! Just saying…

Social business is something bigger

Turning employees into brand advocates and your business into a social business is something bigger: It is about company culture and work ethics, about educating and guiding your employees.

If you consider your employees as “slaves” between nine and five, you will have a hard time to have them head up your praise in social media. And there is certainly more to social business than opening up the Internet.

But: Simply telling your employees to be active in social media does not make you a social business. Most of your employees do not know what they should or should not do on behalf of your company; some do not even know how most social networks really work. You need to invest in your employees to turn them into brand advocates and let them take your business to social.

Allowing the use of social media is only the first step. There are many more to take – yet this is out of the scope of this post. This is about opening a door, for you and your company.

Your brand will gain from your investment

Taking the time and making the effort to educate your employees and set up a strategy for your social business gives you the unique chance of multiple brand advocates spreading the word about your great company and build your brand in social media. Do not only think about the time you could lose, think about the recognition and publicity you can gain.

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