Empower Your Employees
When it comes to social media, one of the biggest mistakes is to over control it. The old model of marketing was that only a few folks controlled marketing messages, but the organizations still using that approach are falling behind.

When you handcuff your employees and limit them to use social networks on the company's behalf, it becomes difficult to keep up with the online chatter that is already taking place, whether you like it or not. It also diminishes the ability to share content and engage with clients and prospective clients.

By training employees and empowering them to use social media, an organization is creating brand ambassadors that can improve the overall reputation and awareness for the business, strengthen clients relationships and even bring in new business.

One organization to emulate is Dell. They have created mandatory classes for employees on how to communicate via social media on the company's behalf.  When the staff members graduate, they become "Dell certified social media and community professionals."

"The program has been in place for just two years and we just had our 1,000th class,"  said Richard Binhammer, the person in charge of communications, executive programs and outreach in Dell's social media and community department.

One of the main reasons Dell got behind these social media trainings is that it realized that social media is not just a marketing tool. It is part of its employees' day-to-day jobs. "We see social media contributing to every aspect of the life cycle," said Binhammer.

The Need For A Social Media Training Program
Allowing the staff to use social media is the only way to scale it because of the volume of content generated and the speed with which it is created, explained Binhammer.

"The Web produces some new challenges," he said. "More people are speaking publicly."  It is not like the public did not communicate before, but now communications on social media are more visible or searchable to the world. 

In many ways, the phone call is being replaced by the tweet or other online comments. 

Those with service and sales roles need to be aware of the conversations taking place and in many cases they should join them.

Marketing experts need help to get out the company's message more than ever. While your firm might not be as formal as Dell's social media and community university (it's called SMaC University), it does need to create a social media strategy and include staff members to successfully execute it. A social media policy should be put in place (read Dell's) and the entire firm should be trained on it so they know to stay within the guidelines and understand how to best use it to help the business.

If implemented correctly, an organization with all its employees using social media will outperform one that is still restrictive and not fully embracing the digital age.

A great quote to remember from a Dell presentation on the topic: Customer-connected employees are your company's rock stars!

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. Read more at ByrnesConsulting.com and follow @ByrnesConsultin.