ALC English Journal Topic February 2015

Marketing for Fun and Profit

I’m very interested in getting involved in SNS marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) to promote our business, but our company doesn’t allow us to use these tools. Are there other ways to do online promotion? Any advice 


With the vast majority of global businesses routinely using these marketing channels, I’m shocked that some companies still forbid employees from using tools! One thing you could do is to find the person responsible for this policy and demand to know why a 21st century business is still relying on last century marketing methods. (I’m just kidding, of course!)

Naturally there are valid concerns about potential negative impact to a company’s brand image by employee misuse of social media. But, don’t give up hope! Your company may just be a little behind in this industry-wide movement.  Here are the stages that I’ve observed as companies evolve toward SNS marketing:

  1. Ignore it! The typical thinking of people at this stage seems to be “SNS is just for personal use, mostly by teenagers!”
  2. Forbid it! Don’t allow employees to use SNS tools for business purposes, nor mention the business in their personal use of these forums.
  3. Control it! Create a Social Media Policy that regulates employee use of these forums for business purposes. (You can download one from the Society for Human Resource Management website.)
  4. Centralize it! Hire someone to monitor SNS forums and officially represent the company online.
  5. Share it! Teach employees to behave responsibly when representing your company in these forums. Trust them to do the right thing, monitor activity, and intervene when necessary.
  6. Embrace it! Accept the fact that, even if you can control your employees, you can’t control what your customers say about you. Enlist large segments of your employees as company ambassadors to help spread your brand image through these channels.

In the past couple of years most serious businesses have realized that SNS is an essential element of their marketing plans. But if you can’t convince your company to adopt these tools, here are some ways to market online without resorting to SNS:

  • Website – Suggest revisions to your company’s website to make it more modern, attractive, interactive, and compatible with mobile devices.
  • SEO – Optimize your company’s website to be found by search engines. Search ranking criteria have changed over the years, so update your website to keep up with these changes.
  • Google Adwords – Fund online advertising programs that drive traffic to your website.
  • Blogs – Start a regular blog relevant to your business, and comment on other high-profile blogs in your industry.
  • White Papers, Tools, Templates – Offer valuable resources for download on your site. I’ve been doing this for years and it attracts a lot of traffic.
  • Contests – Encourage people to compete to win prizes through your website. Amplify the impact by encouraging contestants to invite friends to vote for them as the winner.
  • Newsletters – Send periodic email newsletters to your mailing list. Include lots of links to your online content.

In 2010 Pepsi skipped their traditional TV Super Bowl ads, instead funding a $20 million dollar social media campaign to make the world a better place.  The slow pace of change in accepting new ways of marketing can be frustrating, but Pepsi’s bold experiment is just one sign of the inevitable changes to come. Perhaps you will be the pioneer who leads these changes at your company!

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