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A guest post by Jason Miller of Zoomerang.

If your employees are already engaging in social platforms, why not empower them as brand advocates? Encouraging your employees to openly discuss your brand online can have a “humanizing” effect, ultimately increasing positive consumer perception.

The first step is to put together a social media policy outlining what types of activities are allowed and defining appropriate behavior. It is important to set a tone for the conversations that will take place. Maintaining a respectful and ethical rapport should be a cornerstone of your policy. Click here for an example of a great social media policy.

The next step is to find your internal social media evangelists. Create an online survey to send to your employees and find out their current state of social savvy and interest in participating.

For example, ask questions such as:

  • Do they have a Twitter account and/or Facebook page?

  • Which blogs do they read and comment on regularly?

  • Are they engaging in LinkedIn group discussions?

  • Do they participate in social aggregators, such as Digg, Reddit, and Stumble Upon?

Ask if anyone would like to volunteer to be an official social media advocate and lead the new initiative.

After you have solicited your staff, analyze the results to find who is socially active, and arrange a brown bag lunch with those wanting to learn more. Now that you have all of your knowledge-hungry social media folks (pun intended) in the same room, open the floor for discussion, and encourage the sharing of ideas in regards to social strategy. Take note of unanswered questions for follow up. With a bit of research on such popular social media sites, you should be able to easily find the answers to bring back to your team.

Try to find a nice mix of participation from employees in each area of the business (such as customer service, sales, and marketing) so that you have a voice representing all departments.

Here are some great ways to inspire your employees to participate in brand building via social media:

  • Encourage them to write a blog post on a topic of interest that relates to your industry. Creating a simple blog template for employees to use can be a great tool to eliminate any barriers to writing a post. Content Rules offers excellent sample templates.

  • Encourage participation in LinkedIn groups. This can be a tremendous opportunity to share expertise, gain valuable insight, and keep abreast of the latest trends.

  • Make sure employees who participate in Facebook, Twitter, and other online conversations know where to turn for guidance in the case of a questionable post.

  • Have employees share or comment on relevant articles and stories about your field or business on social aggregators, such as Digg and Stumble Upon. That can lend credibility to your business.

In conclusion, your employees' voices can be a very powerful medium across the various social platforms. Empowering them to speak on behalf of your brand can be a fruitful endeavor for both your company synergy efforts as well as your social strategy.

Jason Miller is a social media marketing manager at Zoomerang. To learn more about setting up your company's strategy, policy, and team, check out A Step-By-Step Guide to a Successful Social Media Program.

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