[tweetmeme]Smart companies are waking up to the idea of their employees being their most important brand advocates. As I’ve written before, employees are still largely underutilized in this role. When there isn’t a positive culture of communication within a company, management doesn’t trust employees with carrying their message to the outside world through new social media tools like blogging and Twittering.
Trust is the operative word.
In a video on social networking at IBM Jon Iwata, SVP, Marketing & Communications, points out the company can’t control what employees say. This scares the heck out of CEOs who don’t trust their employees to do the right thing. But as Iwata points out, the same policies that apply to an employee who might give away company secrets in a bar apply to the employee who is posting a tweet. IBM isn’t afraid of social media because, as Iwata says at the conclusion of the video, “employees can be trusted.”
Probably the most notable example of a wide-open culture with employees talking directly to their customers is Zappos. As those devoted to Twitter know, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is a committed Twitterer. Type in twitter.zappos.com and you can also read the tweets of all 431 Zappos’ employees on Twitter. Just think of the good will being sown among the many customers and potential customers who are following Tony Hsieh (735,000+) and all those employee tweets.
Yet, surveys show that most companies are still in the old command and control mode. Management hasn’t begun to tap into the power of employees as advocates of the company on social media networks. When will they wise up?