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For the past decade, myself and 15 friends have played hooky on the first day of March Madness. We call in sick to work and we all make our way to Lottie’s Pub, a no-frills Chicago bar with a storied past.
There’s no money involved in our annual spring celebration. No real incentive beyond bragging rights, a trophy from the dollar store and four weeks’ worth of group texts. I’ve been tuning into March Madness for 10 years, not because I have a strong affiliation to college basketball but because it makes it easy for me to re-engage and socialize with the friends I haven’t seen in a while.
I’m not alone. Whether it’s a collegiate basketball tournament or another cultural event that you connect with every year, chances are you too have your own personal version of March Madness. And 364 days out of the year, you couldn’t care less about it. But, that on one special day — the Oscars, the MTV Video Music Awards, the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby — you’re all ears, eyes and heart because you know everyone will be talking about the same big moment.
Your company is no different. Every business has its own March Madness, an event that the vast majority of employees are proud of and would be willing and eager to talk about with their family and friends. All your organization needs to do is identify what that “March Madness” is and amplify its message by enabling your employees with the tools they need to share related, social content.
Pinpointing your brand’s championship game
In order to identify your brand’s “March Madness” you need to answer the following question: What components of your business do the majority of your employees care about?
A study by The New York Times Customer Insight Group, “The Psychology of Sharing: Why People Share Online?,” reported that 84 percent of respondents said they share information as a way to support causes or brands they care about. Understanding what your workforce is already invested in is key to increasing participation and driving awareness around your event.
Do you hold an annual sales conference that attracts team members from all of 20 of your company’s locations? Is your business targeting a new consumer group or industry segment with an upcoming product launch? Are you preparing to expand or move offices?
Once you pinpoint what employees are excited about, it’s time to get them talking both internally and externally. Double down on creating content that raises familiarity and highlights the event’s impact before, during and after your organization’s big game. Why is this important? People trust people. And, while brands just aren’t people, the people who work for brands are.
This isn’t new information. We’ve all read the Nielsen stats that 83 percent of global consumers trust recommendations from people them know compared to 70 percent who trust branded websites. Your employees are a valuable, often under-tapped resource in raising brand awareness and impacting brand perception. Within their social circles, they’re viewed as trusted, reliable industry experts. Empowering them with the tools they need to better communicate what aspects of their workplace they’re most interested in and proud of is crucial.
Make sure that employees can easily access and share the information you’re providing them with. A study from Bambu and the Aberdeen Group found that best-in-class organizations, whose overall human capital management initiatives result in the top 20 percent of all survey respondents, are three times more likely to enable employees to share content with their social networks. Keeping the barrier to entry low and providing your employees with timely, curated social content will make them more likely to participate and remain actively engaged throughout your “March Madness” moment.
With your event identified and your social sharing tools solidified, it’s time to dig into what prompts your “fair weather” fans to go all in.
Tapping into your players on the bench
A few loyal employees will always be part of your starting lineup — willing to grab the megaphone for everything from a highly anticipated new product release to an entry level job listing. However, the majority of employees aren’t going to care about everything your brand is doing. It might be a hard pill to swallow that the majority of your employees aren’t regularly going to share your company’s content.
Really understanding what motivates your employees to share is paramount to getting those sometimes sharers off the bench and into the game. “The Psychology of Sharing: Why People Share Online?” found that 90 percent share to help someone have a positive experience or avoid a negative one, 73 percent share to connect with others who share their interests and 65 percent of people share something because they find it informative.
Implement a content strategy that speaks to these common motivators and bucket your event materials into the following categories:
- Enhancing the lives of others
- Collectively engaging a larger group
- Informing those around you
Crafting a variety of content and laddering it up to larger themes will allow your organization to reach a wider number of employees increase the amplification of your message.
My bracket for this year’s March Madness was a bust for weeks. I picked Kansas to win because my girlfriend went to school there and convinced me to give them a chance. Still, none of this really matters. What matters is that that for one month out of the entire college basketball season, I was tuned in and willing to talk about it. This is your company’s goal: to get as many of its employees tuned in and to empower them to talk about it.