Why your people need to be your social media advocates

Coca Cola says the press release and the corporate website have had their day

Coca Cola says the press release and the corporate website have had their day

Yes Coke, it is about storytelling – but don’t forget your own people 

So, the press release is dead. Long live the viral video. The corporate website – for consumer brands at least – may also have had its day.

That’s the recent headline grabbing prediction of Coca Cola’s digital communications chief Ashley Brown.

“Content is king”, apparently (think we might need a moratorium on this phrase!) and the company’s future communication efforts won’t be focusing on the mass media but on ‘storytelling’. So, more good news for the public relations profession. And also for the numerous journalists struggling to find work these days – brand journalism may be your saviour.

The company makes plenty of valid points about the end of one way communication – and the need to be ‘authentic’ and ‘transparent’ in the online world. Oh and don’t forget to not take yourself too seriously.

I think Coca Cola has absolutely got the focus right. Consumers probably aren’t interested in engaging with brands via corporate websites. And, yes, the best route to (increasingly short span) audience attention probably is via a short, snappy video that people want to share with their friends.

Don’t care but want to share

Brown says: “How do I package up (an) announcement as a story that someone who doesn’t work at Coke and doesn’t care would want to share with friends?” he said.

Now, for a global consumer brand with the awareness levels of Coke, those who ‘don’t work for’ the company probably aren’t the critical catalysts which will get the viral ball rolling.

But for (almost) everyone else, we’d do well to include our own people in our storytelling efforts.

An organisation’s own employees should be part of the advocacy effort – they should be our fans, our subscribers and our followers too.

Too many organisations see social media in particular as a distraction for employees. It’s something they do in their lunch hour – or perhaps even on their phones when they nip off for a ‘screen break’ to the loo.

But I think this approach may be missing a trick. Everyone should be part of the storytelling effort.

It doesn’t have to be a distraction from your organisational objectives – it can be integral to them.

Here’s some quick tips:

  • Put in place clear social media guidelines and advice to staff. Build some time in for formal training on this.
  • Encourage staff to follow, subscribe, and like your social media pages – get them sharing.
  • Make it easy for them to like, share, comment and retweet – an hour’s training on a social media management tool like hootsuite could be an hour well spent.
  • Don’t make them – ask them. If you want your staff to be authentic online, make sure you allow them to have their own voice. Of course, those guidelines mentioned above should be clear about what’s out of bounds, but credit your staff with common sense.
  • Don’t ever be tempted to buy popularity in the social media world. It. Does. Not. Work. Ever.





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