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Social Media and Thought Leadership–Turn Your Employees Loose!

By March 31, 2011December 22nd, 20152 Comments

Message In Bottle

I’ve just become a regular blogger for Blog World and New Media Expo blog on the topic of B2B Sales and Social Media.  You can find me there every other Wednesday.  For my first post, I wrote Ten Tactics to Drive B2B Sales with Social Media.  It’s an outline of specific tactics that I’ll be blogging on.

In some of my up coming posts for Whale Hunters Wisdom, I’ll be addressing those Ten Tactics in more detail.  The first tactic is to use social media to position your company as a thought leader.

It’s hard to become a thought leadership company without empowering members of your team to become known as experts in social media settings.  How to do that?

  • Start with policy guidelines.  Be explicit about your expectations of  how employees represent you through social media.  There are obvious rules, such as avoiding swear words, not bad-mouthing your company, telling the truth, and being polite to followers.  Other guidelines may be less obvious.  How should your employees deal with or respond to critical comments from readers?  Do they have permission to re-purpose marketing content or should all of their participation be original?  Do you expect them to clear their area(s) of expertise with you from the outset and stick to certain topics?  Does each blog post require editing and approval before it’s posted?  Decide on your policies before you initiate this kind of program.


  • Develop your distribution strategies.  Do you want to focus on LinkedIn groups?  Would you like to try adding some new employees to the mix of those who produce your blog–or if you don’t have a blog, consider starting one?  Will your customers prefer formal white papers or a Facebook page?
  • Decide the range of content that you’d like to have employees contribute.  They might produce newsletters, blog posts, white papers, discussion board posts, slide decks,  videos, podcasts.  Maybe you want to try Facebook updates or Twitter accounts.  Start small and limited, and grow your presence over time.
  • Give them training, tools, and support.  Offer your social media participants training in content development and provide editing support.  Set standards for the length of a blog post vs. a newsletter article, for example.  Help them understand the difference between a white paper and a marketing piece.  If they want to contribute to discussion boards–such as on LinkedIn–be sure they know the group’s standards for welcome content vs. spam.
  • Within the reasonable limits, guidelines, and training–let them go!  Undoubtedly you have subject matter experts who can develop your brand promise in unique and valuable ways.  Social media content can support and encourage your current customers and attract new customers to you.  Your company can appear bigger, wiser, and savvier than perhaps you thought you were.

So, if you haven’t yet engaged your team in producing content to position your company as a thought leader, I highly recommend you do!  Just follow some reasonable rules and safety factors, and you may be amazed at what they can produce.

We would love to know the tools and techniques your company is using to engage employees in producing social media content as thought leaders.  Please post your comments!

  • Hi Barbara, great stuff about turning your employees loose. One of the things that I have advocated for a while is making thought leadership part of the culture of the organisation. If a company can have a sales, innovation, research, client-centric culture why can’t it have a culture of thought leadership. And it all stems from getting your employees involved.

    The power of this is that all the company’s employees are then in a position to have far more meaningful discussions with their clients and prospects about stuff that really matters to those clients and prospects. This differentiates them from their competitors and imbues loyalty – a much sought after brand association today.

    It’s great having your employees out there as your thought leadership ambassadors – they are after all the company’s best advocates.

  • Thanks for your comments, Craig. I like your point about employees having more meaningful conversations once they have been empowered to become thought leaders.

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