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2/7/2013
09:33 AM
Jake Wengroff
Jake Wengroff
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How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors

Can you ask employees to do social media marketing after hours? Here are some suggestions to encourage engagement.

Open Sessions. At least once per month, schedule an open session -- in-person, in a conference room, or virtual, via a Web conference -- for any and all employees to discuss what's working and what's not regarding the social enterprise. This should not be a meeting to discuss the company's social media marketing strategy -- though of course, if certain employees express an interest in sharing opinions on this topic, that's OK. Instead, ask employees how they can help the company become more social, or for starters, how they can help their department embrace the concept and bring more efficiency to the company.

Sticking to Policy

These strategies also serve another purpose: compliance. When employees learn that their tweets or updates are on view, they may think twice about posting potentially questionable content. This is perhaps the best way to train for social media, as behaviors will be completely visible.

Of course, they might decide to withdraw from social network activity altogether -- or put their pages or channels on lockdown.

But the reverse might occur, and many employees will feel empowered -- and actually get excited -- knowing that their social network activity is being shared with their coworkers. Offline conversations can take place and whether they lead to new business opportunities or perhaps a new participant in a 10K run, the company will communicate more effectively.

The New Reality

Many times company size and age (i.e., years in business) affect the culture and willingness to carry out such off-the-clock social marketing activities.

In smaller companies with a younger staff, tweeting outside of the office and snapping photos on Instagram are considered normal -- and sometimes those who don't are considered the outliers. In fact, in some companies, it's considered mandatory, as startups need as much marketing help as they can get -- and everyone needs to pitch in.

But in other organizations, to get the more "non-social" employees on board, collateral benefits and a business case for employees must be presented.

"Change management" is the catchphrase these days, as companies of all sizes with employees of all experience levels are realizing the need for employees to embrace social as part of their daily work and personal lives.

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Melanie Rodier
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Melanie Rodier,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 10:39:10 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
True, with companies offering more flexible hours, employees can balance their workload. Employees who are offered a flexible arrangement can promote their brand during work hours, or if they want to, and management agrees, during non-work hours, in the same way that they might decide to complete a work assignment during non-work hours. A flexible social media marketing `policy will obviously not work with per hour workers, minimum wage earners etc, but for salaried workers and open-minded companies it can be a good solution. After all, more people go onto social networks off-hours in general, so it's a win-win: the company can get broader visibility on social media with "off-hour" tweets and the like, and employees can feel empowered by having that kind of flexibility.
Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 3:37:43 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
With tools like HootSuite, social comments by employees that are posted during non-work hours -- such as those to promote content or to market a company's products -- can be easily scheduled during work hours as part of an employee's responsibilities. Social media has changed the way companies do business, including engaging with customers on weekends. It's just the way it is now.
PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2013 | 4:08:06 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
There are way to many variables and different type of workers to make a conclusion that would group them all together. Obviously if I own the company I will be more than happy, and most likely be promoting myself through social media after hours. If I am a line worker getting paid an hourly wage, I will probably not be updating my Twitter to feed to announce anything regarding that position or company. That being said the amount of people who access social media at work, while on the clock is gotten out of control and a bit ridiculous. I have read that some people think it is unfair for an employer to ask, I agree, however if I were an employer I would most certainly encourage it after hours. If you are an employee of mine and do not promote our business through social media on your own time, then you had better not be accessing any social feeds when you are on my time.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
egrobichaud
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egrobichaud,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/14/2013 | 7:23:57 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
As you can see from all the comments, there are too many variables here to make blanket statements. Upper-level salaried workers are different than hourly paid line workers, and more. Big corporate versus smaller local businesses. People in different companies, in different types and sizes of companies, and in different positions will react differently to this article. One can clearly see the different perspectives in the various responses.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/13/2013 | 9:45:15 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
I suspect few companies will mandate this behavior, but many will recognize employees who act as social ambassadors on their off-the-clock time, particularly if they're effective ones. I know Ford's approach is to provide the content that's easy to share on social media, so those who are proud of the company and its cars will find it convenient to share those sentiments on social media. No gun to the head required.
jswap
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jswap,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2013 | 11:48:28 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
Yeahhhh, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and tweet about the company on Saturday. And probably Sunday too. Yeahhhhhh, and about those TPS reports...
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
2/12/2013 | 7:28:52 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for myself. Period. Management types and their paid shills need to remember this.
RW0r1d
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RW0r1d,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2013 | 2:56:32 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
Granted, engaging in social during the workday helps the employee, but you failed to cite one concrete instance of an employee's social participation resulting in a promotion. I would go so far as to wager that for each case one could cite of a promotion, I could cite a court action either for wrongful termination or slandering the company.
SalemWitchesWereInnocent
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SalemWitchesWereInnocent,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2013 | 1:21:08 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
I hope the employees use the social media to loudly tell the world what they think of their company, which forces them to work unpaid in their private time. And then I hope they start contacting their lawyers to arrange for compensation and damages.
Truly S.
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Truly S.,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2013 | 11:36:04 PM
re: How To Encourage Off-The-Clock Social Ambassadors
I see no personal gain for the employee, unless the employee is promoting only himself or herself. Otherwise the employer is just getting free work out of the employee. This is as ridiculous as saying that both employers and employees gain when employers hire employees. Well, duh. The employers get work done and the employees get paid. Yes. Well, where's the advantage to the employee to work on his or her own time for no pay, other than to the employer? Yes, the company may get more work, but in the end that will profit the company more than the employee. There's no reason to assume that such work will get the employee a promotion, raise, etc.
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