2012 saw a decline in trust for CEOs, while the trust in front-line employees sky-rocketed. This makes sense since the front-line employees are those who interact and engage with a company’s clients, prospective clients, fans and followers on a regular basis. Unless CEOs begin to take the social reins and learn to position themselves as thought-leaders and valuable members of their industry’s communities, 2013 will continue down the path of the front-liners.
But more than this, front-line employees are beginning to have even more of a credible presence online as they begin to publish blogs and build up their own personal brands. This reality can be a scary one for companies and organizations who calculate the risk involved with these personal brands and their high-audience online presence.
As these personal brands continue to develop – and continue to develop they will – the questions companies and organizations will face in 2013 are going to be a little bit more complex than in previous years. Questions such as:
- How can we empower and teach our valued employees to better represent our brand online?
- How can we make them feel that they are truly valued and important to the company so that they WANT to better represent our brand online?
- What are we allowed to include within our company’s social media policy that does not violate our employees’ right to free speech?
- How can we better prepare our employees for social media crisis management? (Because each one of them is a spokesperson for your company whether you want them to be or not)
- How can we work together to build up their online credibility, using it to benefit the both of us?
The fact that your employees are building a credible online presence and name for themselves outside of your office walls is a reality that we will continue to see in 2013. The questions that your brand should be asking itself in preparation for this is, in essence, how can your brand and your employees with their own personal brands continue to work harmoniously together – and where/how can you explore mutually beneficial opportunities?
Have you seen an increase in employees building personal brands online, and if so, how has your brand responded to the risk and opportunities that this situation presents?