May 21, 2013

Companies need to change the way they look at their employees, says Nathan Egan, the CEO of PeopleLinx, which provides solutions that help companies leverage social media for business and marketing. Businesses have known for several years now that their customers are on social media, and that they can glean important information from listening to their customers on those networks. Financial services firms are generally well ahead of the game in monitoring their customer interactions on social media because of compliance issues, Egan, a former sales executive at LinkedIn when the social media site was still in its infancy, observes.

[See Related: The Compliance Risk of Social Media]

But now companies need to look for ways to leverage the presence that their employees have on social media sites, he advises. “Each one of your employees [that is on social media] is potentially a website for the company,” Egan points out.

That means that companies need to have a content strategy for those nascent websites to leverage them, he adds. If a bank is running a marketing campaign, then the bank should be trying to figure out how its employees’ Twitter or LinkedIn accounts play into that campaign, according to Egan.

Employees, of course, have to buy in to using their social media accounts in this way, but Egan says that can be achieved by allowing employees to opt-in to the strategy or campaign, and incentivizing that opt-in. Simply telling employees have to tweet or post something doesn’t get the long-term commitment from the employee needed to consistently leverage social media, Egan notes.

One reason both companies and employees should be interested in using social media to develop business and marketing leads is the ability to track returns, Egan says. For instance, if a bank branch manager looks to connect with members of the community through his or her LinkedIn or Twitter account and develops a relationship with people in the community through social media, it is easy for the bank to then track how many new customers are acquired or products sold through that manager’s social media efforts, Egan explains. “It’s easier to track the marketing returns from social media connections. You can’t really track the number of new customers you get from putting up a billboard in Times Square,” he notes.

Using the example of a branch manager connecting with the community through social media, Egan explains that leveraging social media in this manner provides a better opportunity to build long-term relationships with customers than through traditional marketing campaigns. “Branch managers and sales reps should be following prospective clients on Twitter. They should be listening; just be there and observe. If one of your biggest customers tweets something, set it up to go to your email,” Egan advises.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...