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How To Protect Your People and Brand

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How To Write Effective Social Media Guidelines That Protect Your Brand

Your lack of social media guidelines could discourage employees from becoming brand advocates and even applicants from joining your company. I speak from personal experience.

When I first joined LinkedIn, my profile said I worked for a “Bay area Fortune 500 financial services company” instead of noting its name and linking to the company page. Soon, many of my colleagues’ profiles said the same thing.

You see, our organization was trying to figure out its social media policies within the confines of a highly regulated industry. It blocked access to any website with a social component — including YouTube. When employees were asked about using social media on their own time and devices, the company’s initial guidance was they didn’t want them using social media at all.

Well, that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, thanks to lengthy conversations with my legal and compliance colleagues, I hit upon a solution: I scrubbed any mention of my employer in all my public profiles.

Why employee social advocacy matters

Why do employee brand advocates matter? Because people are increasingly wary and distrustful of brand and government claims and prefer input from their peers.

The  Edelman Trust Barometer underscored this message. In its 2024 iteration, it found people were concerned that the media (64%) and business leaders (61%) are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.

This shift in trust becomes a competitive advantage for brands that cultivate thousands of eager brand ambassadors, but this requires documented employee social media guidelines to not only allow your team members to thrive on social but to protect your brand from legal risks.

Take a responsible approach to workplace social media policies

Whether you like it or not, employees will talk about your company on social media, and it’s their federally protected right to do so.

Many businesses react with fear and develop extensive restrictions around what employees can or cannot say online in their company social media guidelines. They require employees to agree to a list of don’ts and end the conversation.

However, innovative companies increasingly prioritize employee advocacy, seeing both employee retention and bottom-line advantages. A recent case study showed tech leader Salesforce activated about a third of its 73,000-person employee base as brand advocates, resulting in a 2,000% ROI on its social ambassador program.

Social media guidelines for employees serve as guardrails for online activity and show employees you want them to be engaged online, helping to build on your company’s social media success.

Follow the essentials for your guidelines

The length of your company’s social media guidelines is less important than their accessibility and quality. Ensure any employee can understand the guidelines. Create one-pagers or cheat sheets for specific activities, like training or unique campaigns.

At a minimum, all employee social media guidelines should include the following elements:

  • Brand’s purpose on social media — Document the brand’s purpose for each social platform. Whether for recruitment, content amplification, customer advocacy, etc., the guidelines should explain why the company exists on each channel and how employees can support that purpose.
  • Company style guide — List any trademark needs and spelling of company products and services so that employees correctly present the brand. You should also define your brand personality and any language considerations.
  • Access to shared brand asset folder — Create a central folder employees can access for company logos, how-to’s, shared FAQs, branded profile headers for social sites, and more. Consider creating a list of preferred hashtags and their purposes, especially with company hashtags such as Dell’s #IWorkForDell or IBM’s #ProudIBMer. Keeping this information in one place increases the likelihood that employees will stay on brand.

For a deeper look at these areas, including resources to help you define your social media goals, check out my article, Why Social Media Guidelines are the Key to Unlocking Employee Brand Advocacy.

Use guidelines as a brand defense

The stakes can be high for enterprises when employees use their social media channels in unapproved ways, and savvy companies know the importance of developing extensive social media guidelines.

Get ahead of potential issues and address these all-too-common social media pitfalls in your employee social media guidelines:

  • Legal concerns — Make it incredibly clear at the start of all projects what is and is not approved for social sharing. Also, while many people differ on the use of “views-are-my-own” disclaimers, large enterprises should discuss whether they want employees to have such a clause on their accounts.
  • Unsanctioned brand accounts — When your company spans your country or the globe, employees may create localized accounts. Address this by listing all official corporate accounts in your social guidelines and asking team members to use only those for brand-related matters.

Consider having a social media request form that allows employees to suggest new accounts or content. This way, their enthusiasm can be better harnessed with a conversation versus an email request to delete the rogue account.

  • Departed employees — As employees move on to different career opportunities, they may forget to update their profiles to note they are no longer with your company. This could cause confusion when they start posting content about their new companies or when customers search LinkedIn for staff. While you cannot force individuals to change their social account information, you can at least make the request a part of the exit or off-boarding process.

Enterprise social media guidelines examples

Many brands make their company’s social media guidelines public. These examples can serve as great models for your company’s guidelines. Keep in mind, though, that these are just public-facing documents. The organizations may have more expansive guides for internal audiences.

Each of these three examples has unique elements, but they boil down to address the same point — not everyone knows how to act online.

  • Stanford University: These extensive guidelines have a small yet informative section on an individual employee’s social media use. The main points cover how employees are responsible for what they say on social and how they should think about how their social engagement may affect the organization’s reputation. While this may seem general, the policy also links to the university’s information security and privacy policies. What truly sets this social policy apart is its thoroughness in discussing using social on behalf of the organization.
  • IBM: What stands out in this guide (no longer available on IBM’s public site) is that employees are clearly encouraged to engage in industry conversations online and have their own blogs. “Bring your own personality to the forefront” is part of the company’s guidelines, with the necessary caveat to not use offensive or harmful language.
  • Dell: This policy is distilled into five easy-to-digest bullet points for employees and directs them to the Dell social media team email for additional questions. It tackles the issue of rogue accounts, noting that an account created for Dell may be considered Dell property and that accounts cannot be created to ride on the success of Dell’s corporate accounts.

Educate employees on the social media guidelines

As part of every employee’s onboarding, a member of the social team should discuss the company’s social media policies and guidelines and help any new hires set up their channels in a brand-relevant way.

To maintain and grow awareness of the company’s social media policies, get creative:

  • Host lunch-and-learn conversations. These informational meetings allow employees to enjoy their food while you discuss topics relevant to your company’s social media channels. If your company has multiple offices, hold a video meeting. Record the conversation to provide a playback file for those who cannot attend.
  • Post social media office hours. If employees are hesitant to ask questions during meetings or regular day-to-day operations, give them a safe place for in-depth, one-on-one time by hosting regular social media office hours. This strategy establishes your social team as a helpful resource rather than the brand police.
  • Send social media amplification emails. Email employees regularly to share content you want them to amplify. Include suggested text for easy plug-and-play for busy employees. You cannot rely solely on email, though, as internal emails have an average open rate of 76%.
  • Create a social media Slack or Teams channel. If Slack or Microsoft Teams is where work happens in your organization, share all your social content there as well.
  • Hold employee meetings. Create regular update/reminder slides employees can include in presentation decks during company all-hands, all-team meetings, or individual group or office meetings.
  • Use the company intranet. An intranet can be a great resource for increasing productivity and distributing information to employees. Share updates to the social media policies and use it as a hub for all your social resources.
  • Develop training videos. With more internal resources available, enterprises can explore using video to educate employees on topics related to social. Research has found that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to just text, so the time commitment to create a video could pay off in message retention.

Continue success with employee social media guidelines

In addition to the core company social media guidelines, ensure that employees can access the brand voice so they can mirror your brand’s language and engage with content that you think best emulates what you want to see your employees doing on social media platforms.

Ongoing monitoring and education are the keys to getting the most out of your guidelines. But with an eager brand advocate base on your side, you’re more likely to see the social ROI you need to achieve your goals.

Updated from a January 2020 article.

Bring your team to Content Marketing World this October for inspiration, ideas, and actionable advice on developing and executing a strategy that drives profit for your business. Group rates are available. Register today

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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