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Your Employees Are Your Secret Social Weapon

There isn’t a business in creation that doesn’t want to save money, and for many brands—especially SMBs—social media is the answer. You don’t have to spend big bucks to have a Facebook presence or a respectable amount of Twitter followers.

“Social media done well is about education and creating immediate demand generation,” says Eric Schiffer, CEO of DigitalMarketing.com.

Which is why, when it comes to your brand’s social media presence, content is (forgive me, I know it’s a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason) king, and authenticity is, well, queen.

When employees use their own social media accounts to help promote a business, there’s a certain level of genuineness and likeability that enters the conversation because the message is coming from a real person rather than @We’reTryingToSellYouSomething.

Just look at Luke Webster and his company The Shave Network. Webster runs a series of websites under The Shave Network umbrella, all of which sell straight razors and traditional shaving accessories. According to DomainSherpa, Webster brings in six-figure sales every month, so he’s clearly doing something right. In addition to aggressive search engine marketing and pay-per-click campaigns, Webster uses his employees, all of who seem to be passionate members of the straight razor community, to promote organic content on Twitter and Facebook. He also posts interesting stuff from his own personal Facebook page.

“It’s simple,” Schiffer says. “The premise of marketing is based on getting attention, and when you’re on a limited budget and you have employees with their own social networks, social media allows you to exercise those networks.”

But there are several fine lines businesses have to walk if they want to pull this off. So, if you’re planning to start using your employees to help you build brand trust and drive traffic, keep this cheat sheet nearby:

1. Give them some direction. You can’t just say, ‘Hey, Joe, post something on Facebook about our company later, OK?’ when you run into an employee at the water cooler. “If you’re going to use your employees’ social networks, then you have to create great content for them to post that’s natural and focuses on brand experience,” Schiffer says.

2. But don’t cramp their style. Your employees aren’t robots, so they probably don’t tweet like this:

“Encourage employees to put their own personality or spin in the preamble before sharing your content,” Schiffer advises. “I would also give people choices. Create content, but give them options so they can post what they think will be most compelling to their friends or the people in their network.”

3. Incentivize your staff to participate. You’re asking your employees to do something for you, so why not do something for them? A Starbucks card or a little flex time’s not going to break your bank.

Which is great for the employees who are into it; but Schiffer strongly advises against penalizing those who aren’t. “People often don’t want to mix the two—work and personal—so give employees the option to opt out, especially if what you want them to post is not relevant to their audience,” Schiffer says.

4. Measure the impact. As with anything, you shouldn’t just do it to do it. “Look at the conversions,” Schiffer says. “Are people engaging with the content? If yes, stay targeted with follow-up messages and more relevant content—if not, then reevaluate.”

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