Why culture is crucial to your social, and how to fix it

What employees say on social matters. It can sometimes break a company and often raise it up.

Your insides are on view.

Yes, all the wonderfulness of your company and all the hidden skeletons (and messy, frayed, edges) are now shining clearly to your customers, your investors, your shareholders and future employees.

Jo Geraghty, partner at the Culture Consultancy and best-selling author, chatted to us about what a company culture actually means and its impact on social, in our recent Serious Social Live. Here are 4 take outs that we think should be a focus as we unwind from the pandemic.

1. Your employees and customers can smell ‘fake’

As Jo says,

“There is no room for smoke and mirrors in this world anymore”

You cannot pretend to have a good culture. And it’s now crucial that brands focus hard on aligning purpose and vision. It’s tough and hard work. Especially if you are a commercially orientated company. Whilst it might be somewhat easier for the charities and B Corps to align to a desirable purpose, there are ways in which to flip the business on its head and create profit through purpose.

And it matters as there is a lot of talk about brands being authentic, especially as we emerge from the pandemic. Customers are more sceptical and less trusting. They will see when the marketing doesn’t align with your culture.

2. Learn to articulate your culture

Sometimes companies have a great culture, but they just can’t articulate it. Ask their people to describe it, and they umm and ahhh. You need to be able to audit your culture – delve right in. What makes it tick, what are the enablers and how it might evolve. If you are able to assess and articulate what you’ve got, then you can design for the future.

And of course, you then must communicate. From the leadership to the shop floor, you need to have a language that belongs to you. Making it the heartbeat of conversation makes it easier for employees to represent the business. It makes it easier for a single voice and a single message to ring out loud and clear – internally and externally

3. You cannot gag staff

As much as you try, you cannot silence your employees. In fact, 50% of employees are already posting videos, photos and messages about what life is like at the company.

Jo recommends that you set out the ground rules. But beyond that you train people. She has a 4 Es methodology:

“Educate, engage, empower and enable. If you’re educating people as to what social is and why it’s important, how it can be used, you’re engaging them, you’re empowering them to go out there and do it. And you’re enabling them”

And then plan for things to go wrong. Staff may mess up. But it is how the company deals with it that matters. The recent Dulux example shows how a social media manager said the wrong thing about sponsorship. They publicly apologised, and I suspect lessons were learnt on briefing the social person a bit more rigorously.

4. Social adds weight to the employee experience

A social presence is a positive thing for employees too. It often gives staff pride in their organisation, but more importantly, gives them an opportunity to identify what they are doing at work with the wider ethos of the company. Citrix are a great example of this. Not only is winning awards as the best place to work a feather in their cap, but the way their people talk about the company on social is fantastic.

There was so much more to unpack in this serious social episode with Jo. I definitely urge you to have a listen. And remember that social is leaky. Culture and social are woven together. Whether you want to ramp-up employee advocacy, or avoid being cancelled by your customer base, you need to align your social and culture. It will raise the game and you’ll find it delivers impact that is worth the effort.

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