In my days we didn’t have hashtags…
It’s hard to remember a time before social media yet it’s barely a decade since we all started sharing pictures of our lunch. In fact, Twitter turns 11 years old today. The social phenomena aligned almost perfectly with incremental growth in mobile use and this enabled brands to take their product messaging direct to consumers on every device. But how many brands are really using social media to create a genuine conversation with their disciples?
We asked Microsoft Germany’s Head of Digital Channels and bonafide influencer Magdalena Rogl what true engagement really means and how organisations can focus efforts to nurture valuable brand ambassadors.
It may seem like an obvious question but why is professional use of social media so important for brands to reach new and existing customers?
In recent years communication has changed in a tremendous way. Most important communication has become faster and more direct – which is a huge opportunity for companies to engage with their customers. It’s a basic rule that companies have to be where the customers are. And as 30% of all time spent online is allocated to social media activities this is where companies meet their (new or existing) customers.
Most of the people use social media mainly to engage with their friends and families, to be entertained or to be informed. But not to see advertising. So that’s what companies have to do: Engage, entertain or inform. But it’s not only a one-way street: Thanks to social media every customer has the chance to have a public voice. And more important: Every company has the chance to listen to their customers.
How can companies go beyond their own channels and encourage employees to be brand ambassadors?
The Gartner Trust barometer says people put more trust in friends than in companies (for which finding no one would need a trust barometer – it’s just how humans work 😉 ).
So companies have to be personal and put faces to their communication. From my opinion, every encouraged employee can become a brand ambassador. But not everyone is born to do so. That’s why companies need to support, educate and help their employees in doing social media.
In your opinion what are the best social channels for employees to engage with potential customers?
For us Twitter works best. But I don’t think it depends on the company and the employees. If an employee is very active on Instagram and doesn’t like Twitter that much you should support them doing Instagram. Communication has to be authentic and everyone should communicate in his or her way. That includes a very important aspect: We don’t urge anyone to be active on social media.
Is it enough to employ a ready-made industry influencer?
Definitely not. A company should hire people who are passionate about their work. If that person is an influencer in addition – great! If not: Support them to become one.
How is Microsoft approaching this?
Most importantly, we have an open and appreciative communication culture. We use Yammer for the internal communication where every employee can use his voice and be heard. What we call a “Growth Mindset” is implemented from top down. Whether it’s an intern or the CEO – everyone has the same chance to raise their voice. And we have many role models who show what a great tool social media can be. Furthermore, we offer different training and programs to help people understand social media. As mentioned before it’s important for us to give every employee the chance to be as he or she is.
What can a business or employee do to build up the right network?
I think there is no right or wrong network. But people need support and tools – they need to be enabled. That’s why we’re always responsive to any questions, give workshops and offer how-to guides.
What’s the secret to becoming an influencer at a global powerhouse like Microsoft?
I’m a very curious person who loves to get to know people, communicate and engage with them. And I’m absolutely passionate about what I’m doing. To sum it up: The secret is to have the freedom to be as you are.