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Russ Fradin

Do You – or Someone You Know – Have Social Media Anxiety?

By: Russ Fradin | July 10, 2013 | 
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Social Media Anxiety

By Russ Fradin (not to be confused by the picture of Lindsay Bell-Wheeler over there <—-)

We are all acutely aware of the value that social media brings to brands, and we at least acknowledge the existence of a good social media marketing strategy.

But what if developing a working strategy isn’t the primary issue when trying to bang the social media drum?

What if the issue is social media anxiety? You probably have at least one colleague who is just not very engaged on social media.

Their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ profiles are either barren or rarely updated, and they don’t bother to engage other users to increase their following.

While not everyone needs to be actively engaged on social media, it’s crucial for anyone in communications, marketing, or public relations to have an online voice and an audience.

PR people, in particular, should be developing relationships with journalists on Twitter, and spreading client news across their social media channels as a best practice.

So where is the disconnect?

Social Media Anxiety

When it comes to employees representing themselves, their company, and even clients or customers, there can be resistance and even anxiety about posting content online. One poorly written post, and their mistakes are available for public criticism.

Employees may also fear misrepresenting clients or they may not even know what is “brand-safe” to share. Businesses are rapidly realizing the need to find a way to overcome their employees’ social anxiety, and integrate them into their larger social media strategy.

So how can your business do this? Motivate your team to participate in social media through an employee advocacy program.

An employee advocacy strategy is based around the concept of encouraging employees to become advocates on behalf of their company, and is a powerful strategy that can boost your employees’ networks, strengthen relationships with current clients, and get the attention of prospective clients.

Making it Work

So how do you actually pull off an employee advocacy strategy? Here are some guidelines, things you need to have established – as policy -to get you started in the right direction.

Social Media Policy

First of all, if you don’t have a social media policy, you should seriously want to consider creating one.

There are certain best practices that need to be followed when sending out tweets on behalf of your company or customers. A basic corporate social media policy includes guidelines on what employees should – and should – not share online.

A good employee advocacy platform will make it really easy for your employees to follow the policy and stay compliant.

Employee Enablement

Social media can seem self-explanatory to those with experience, but there is still a learning curve. Convenience is the key to getting employees to participate and share. An effective employee advocacy tool should simplify social sharing, not make it more complicated.

Certain tools accomplish this by aggregating all brand-safe, relevant content in a single location, and allow employees to link multiple social accounts to the platform, enabling them to share the content on all their social channels in fewer steps.

Employees already have day jobs so asking them to be social media mavens is a tall order. A good employee advocacy platform will make it super convenient.

Sharing Strategy

Employees will need to know what to share. Whether company or client news, there needs to be a strategy to keep them up to date on the latest suggested posts. This can be as simple as an email to employees from the social media manager with suggested tweets or posts, or a link to an article to share.

Employee Advocacy is Opt-In Only

Social media has its benefits, and when an employee is using their social media networks to promote something or someone this should be by choice. But as employee advocacy should be opt-in only, incentives – rather than demanding employees become social advocates – can be a great way to encourage sharing.

Recognition is often the most powerful incentive and reward.

Give employees credit for their social media efforts. Create a leaderboard, for example, with a point system, and award monthly prizes to your most active employee advocates.

Reap the Benefits

As PR professionals, you naturally want to get news out to as many people on as many channels as possible. Accomplishing this via social media, however, is vastly different than distributing a news release. The right advocacy tool will help your employees overcome social media anxiety stemming from a social media learning curve, or the fear of sharing not brand-safe content.

A brand story shared on social through your employee’s authentic voices has the potential to meaningfully engage a far broader audience than traditional paid media. According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, employees are considered one of the most trusted and reliable sources of information, far more so than the CEO.

Employee sharing and networking on behalf of your brand not only increases their personal social clout, but also raises your brand’s social profile. Show your employees how simple it is to discover, share, contribute and even drive larger conversations for your brand.

They will feel empowered, and your company and clients will reap the benefits. Everyone wins.

P.S. Join DJ Waldow on July 25 at 11 a.m. CT for the Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. Register – for free – here!

About Russ Fradin


Russ is a digital media industry veteran with more than 15 years experience in the online marketing world. Russ co-founded and was CEO of Adify and co-founded SocialShield. He was also senior vice president of business development at Wine.com, executive vice president of corporate development at comScore, and was among the first employees at Flycast. Russ is an active angel investor in the digital world, and is on a number of boards. He holds a bachelor's of science degree in economics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

18 comments
dbvickery
dbvickery

This post is definitely resonating with me right now. We are currently re-platforming our corporate website, and we will be introducing a corporate blog. That means we will go through some of the angst you describe here.

I'm not one for the angst because I buy into the intelligence and discretion of our people, but we do need to stay "brand safe" and establish basic social policies and editorial reviews as appropriate.

TLBurriss
TLBurriss

Great article Russ. 

It can be hard to encourage employees to talk about business with people both IRL (in real life) and especially virtually (on social media platforms).

Even some of the business development folks have problems doing this IRL & Virtually.

I love the idea of a leaderboard and public praise of employee social media activity.

Thanks for sharing.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

'it’s crucial for anyone in communications, marketing, or public relations to have an online voice and an audience.'

While I get you point with your post Russ I don't agree with this statement. Only if you are involved in Social Media must  you be doing this. I really could care less if the person making my TV commercials has a twitter account. Don't forget 2/3's of the US will not be on Facebook today. Only 1/10th of the US will post something on Facebook today.. 5/6's of the US will not be on Twitter today. Seems those folks do plenty fine. But 95% will watch TV!

I rarely go on facebook for my personal use though I do run 5 brand pages. I love twitter and that is why I am on Twitter.

Most brands have: very little social media presence (they have accounts set up but rarely use them), fail at their efforts (most big brands need bigger scale than social has), or shun it.

Social Media is just a communication tool like a phone or email. It really comes down to using tools that most benefit you. And if someone is very successful who are we to say they are doing anything wrong.

That said on a case by case basis your post does hold true when applicable. And people should be knowledgeable if not active. I mean this crap is time consuming Russ and I have Faxes to send! 8)

RobBiesenbach
RobBiesenbach

I gotta tell you, Social Media Anxiety doesn't stop when you're past the initial learning curve. I feel like it just gets worse. Should I be doing more on this platform instead of the other? Is my presence regular enough? Do I need to space posts out more? Less? Have I shared enough today? Have I done enough retweeting and engaging or too much self-promotion? Or not enough self-promotion? Why does it seem I'm the only person on the planet who finds LinkedIn groups unwieldy and useless? Is there a secret group where everyone's engaged, having fun and not spamming? Is Mitch Joel right about comments? Or Seth? Or Gini? Is it enough to "like" that comment instead of replying? After a long conversation does a "like" mean, "Okay, shut up now?" If I follow this person with 30K followers back will I get the dreaded DM? Why do so many hookers follow me? Etc ...


Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

I used to have social media anxiety, but then I met Gini Dietrich and she told me to just go for it. Be yourself and all that stuff :) If I had not met pros like Gini, Danny Brown, Marcus Sheridan early on, I would never have kept hitting publish and I certainly would't be Twittering away, comfortably. 

Have you read Gini (or Danny's) tweets? … they're kinda ... well ... goofy, really. And if they can be so comfortable why can't I? Eh?

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

I definitely had this when I first started using social media. Especially Twitter - I had no clue what to talk about so I just didn't post anything. Now I'm probably way to comfortable with social, but still try not and share TOO much. 

Great tips Russ...I wish I had them back when I started!!

Bob Farnham
Bob Farnham

Don't worry... there's an app for that!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

When I first read the subject line my reaction was "Only when I see @ginidietrich being ganged up on online, by her friends."  :) Great post - it's a Re-reader for sure; I ran into this exact client syndrome yesterday, and there were TEARS. (Not by me - there ain't no crying in Social Media).

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

Hi Russ, I really enjoyed this post and I think your recommendations are helpful. I have two thoughts/questions. First, since I am a non-communications person at a non-profit, it's a little different. We have a social media policy because we were required to submit it to our funding agency, but to my knowledge none of us employees have seen it.  Having been instructed once by supervisory leadership "just not to talk about us (the employer)" in your personal social media, I know whatever the piece of paper that is the "official" policy says, I heard all I needed to hear in that one verbal conversation. All of which is to say, if the organization is not a communications one, take the step the precedes all of this by making sure staff is clear on your expectations re: social media use at all. Secondly, it also makes me wonder about the boundary between an individual's social media identity and how they want to portray themselves as representing their organization. For example, if I tweet a children's health policy fact on a workday at 2 p.m. from my personal twitter acct, am I messing up my or my organization's image when I tweet with the (very fun) #wineparty hashtag on Friday nights at 9 p.m.? And lastly I really want to give @belllindsay a hug in response to that image up there! 

rfradin
rfradin

@Howie GoldfarbPlenty of people are watching television but it's not a viable medium for most businesses and certainly not the average person. Television is a one way channel and unless you're behind the camera you don't have a voice, you're just a passive observer. The great thing about social media is the ability to connect. This is how meme's are created – one person sharing with their network, and everyone from that network sharing until an idea is spread across exponentially. While you may not have an interest in following someone's account, other people are and that's more the point that I'm trying to explain. Employee advocacy is about expanding your audience and spreading ideas and content through your employees.

You're right, many brands have little presence. But there was an interesting report from Forrester that said 70% of consumers get their brand or product recommendations from friends and family. So why not put effort into getting employees – who we can assume have friends and family - to become advocates?

Any marketing strategy is going to be taken on a case by case basis, but absolutely it is about being knowledgeable. Thanks for taking the time to read! Can you believe some people don't even know what a fax machine is anymore?? 

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

@RobBiesenbach WOW!! That's a whole other level of anxiety!! But your right - I may not have the "OMG, what do I post" anxiety anymore, but I do have the "Crap, why isn't anyone liking/sharing/retweeting/commenting on my post? Why isn't my community growing? and Why isn't there any engagement?" anxiety.

rfradin
rfradin

@Craig McBreenTheir tweets are great! They have personality, which is definitely something one should be embrace. If you're just tweeting about what you had for dinner, you won't be getting too many followers.

rfradin
rfradin

@AmyMccTobin @ginidietrichGlad you liked the post. Having an open dialogue with your client about their social media guidelines can be helpful. But you're right, no crying in crying social media! 

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

@yvettepistorio it's so much fun (as long as you aren't worried about it affecting your professional image with your employer and all LOL)! Every Friday at 9 p.m. EST, just use #wineparty and you'll find a lot of fun people! It's the brainchild of @blogdangerously

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