by Jennifer Lumba | December 19, 2011
Social media can reinforce your organization’s brand image to the marketplace, to both current and prospective customers. Yet there is another audience segment that is just as important, if not more to your business: your employees. Ultimately, they are the ones who make your brand come alive for your customers.

When employees care about and believe in their organization’s brand, they are engaged, more loyal to the organization, and motivated to work harder. The results are improved productivity, retention, and customer service, as well as lower absenteeism.

Below are the top 10 tips to harness the power of social media in onboarding employees to live the company’s mission and values in their day-to-day activities.

1. Communicate your direction. Many studies have shown that employees do not fully understand their companies’ direction, which can negatively impact customer service, employee engagement, and productivity, as well as the ability to recruit and retain talent. Social media, on a daily basis, can communicate your organization’s long-term vision and goals, monitor ongoing progress, and celebrate important milestones.

2. Reinforce your mission and values. Use social media to publicly recognize and reinforce the behaviors and attitudes that support your organization’s mission and values. A colleague demonstrated above-par customer service? Safety has been improved through a change of procedure? A teammate delivered a fantastic sales presentation? Social media tools, such as Facebook, can instantly recognize and highlight all good works and behaviors, generate mass congratulations and feedback, and encourage peers to strive for them as well.

3. Test and improve new ideas. Want to hold the Christmas party at a different venue than usual? Perhaps you want to set up an environmental committee? Or you have a new branding idea? Tweet about it and get feedback, obtain buy-in, and identify the best champions to drive the project forward. Not only will open collaboration—also known as crowdsourcing—generate results, but it will improve team cohesiveness and help develop a sense of belonging and purpose.

4. Enhance your corporate storytelling. Marketing experts will tell you that brands are, first and foremost, “emotional.” Use social media to develop corporate mythologies. Prepare an ebook that highlights the company’s history and how it feeds into your current work culture. Use a blog to feature past and current company heroes or everyday success stories. Whatever you do, make sure to emphasize how each and every employee’s contribution fits into the larger picture.

5. Manage change. We all know that change can be destabilizing. When miscommunicated or badly managed, change can easily backfire. Use social media to pre-announce personnel appointments, to monitor the progress of departmental reorganization, to get feedback on the new accounting software, and to keep the pulse of your team’s morale during a period of downsizing.

6. Break down barriers. Social media has broken down barriers of time, distance, and hierarchy. Tools such as Skype and instant messaging have revolutionized work by connecting teams working in different time zones, but they can also be instrumental in bringing together the factory floor worker and the CEO. A regular “fireside chat” can be a great touch point in reinforcing the brand, engaging employees, and improving communication and cohesiveness.

7. Track and monitor the weather. Use message boards, blogs, and survey tools to keep track of perceptions, to monitor morale, and to identify potential problems at their infancy. Use them to invite open discussion and honest criticism that can feed into the improvement of operations. Social recognition tools can help put a spotlight on who is doing exceptionally well and who is looking to move up or into another department while deduce which employees may be disengaging or disengaged.

8. Connect the internal and the external. External marketing efforts often can be undermined if they are not supported by consistent and transparent internal communications. Social media can help you manage your relationships with your employees, who in turn manage your relationships with your customers. By keeping your employees informed, engaged, and up to date through everyday social media outlets, they will become on-point, passionate advocates when dealing with stakeholders.

9. Energize and revitalize the troops. Social media offers great potential to energize and revitalize your internal brand. Have fun with it! Consider crowd-sourcing ideas for the next corporate outing or putting together a promotional video that will go viral. Or simply post a Joke of the Day to keep everyone chuckling.

10. Say thanks. Relationships lie at the fundamental core of social media. And the best way to reinforce a relationship is to give thanks. The stronger the relationship between your organization and your employees is, the more valuable your brand becomes both internally and externally. Online tools, such as ecards and ecertificates, are conveniently available, easy to use, and effective in saying thanks to employees for both small and the great contributions.

Remember that the goal of an internal branding campaign is to create an emotional connection between your company and your employees that transcends any one particular experience. A strong internal brand will inform the way employees approach their jobs and ultimately reverberate through to your marketplace, your stakeholders, and your bottom line.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at