Do you still have people in your company who are scared of letting employees tweet? Is social media still viewed as a “risky” venture? Are you terrified of what an employee might say on a social media channel? There is no shame in admitting that social media can open a huge door to embarrassment and even risk for a company, if it is placed in the wrong hands. Getting comfortable with letting our guard down is a process that doesn’t happen overnight and that journey can take longer than many of us would like.

But honestly, we would be fools if we thought that being risk-adverse is unique to the introduction of social media. This is something that likely flows through the life blood of the company and is present in everything the company does. At times, there may be complicating factors that precipitate fear such as tight regulations that must be followed or prior law suits. However, the only way the organization is going to be able to move forward and overcome the state of fear that is driving business decisions is to take a hard look at its culture and how it is training employees to think about their role in the company.

Corey Schreiber, Zappos Insights Content Dude

Corey Schreiber, Zappos Insights Content Dude

At BlogWorld in Los Angeles earlier this month, I spent some time with Corey Schreiber, the content dude for Zappos Insights. Yeah, content dude, how cool is that title?! We had an insightful conversation about their mission and how risk-aversion to social media may actually be a symptom and not the core problem.

Wait, is this the shoe company?

Most of us know Zappos for their shoes, quirky culture, and commitment to customer service. Zappos Insights is a sister company that was started to help other companies bring happiness to the work place and change their culture.

“It all started when Tony decided to be completely open and transparent about how the Zappos Family does business. So many businesses not only wanted to learn the ‘what,’ they wanted to learn ‘how’ we do what we do. So we assembled our crack commando force team and launched Zappos Insights (ZI) to give you all the tools you need to develop the culture you desire.” About Zappos Insights

What can Zappos Insights teach you about social media values?

Schreiber told me there are a few core values for social media that everyone at Zappos try to live by: transparency, authenticity, and value. These are important to them because he said their audience wants to see them with their guard down — they want to know who is behind the computer answering their question or taking their order. When Zappos’s audience is considering a purchase, the company believes they are more likely to buy from someone that has provided tremendous value and asked for nothing in return. Schreiber said those same values are inherent to the culture that Zappos is helping other companies create by sharing them.

Zappos Core Values = Awesome Social Media Core Values Too!

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Consider how empowered you feel with a set of core values like this versus some malarkey like respect, integrity and customer service. Just look back at those values for a second, each one if only applied to your mission in social media could completely transform how you interact on your social channels. At the heart, the core values of a company should apply to anything the company is working on and it should be an easy check to see if you lived up to the values. I think it is worthwhile to note that the mission of Zappos Insights is not to make everyone’s culture like theirs; they are smart folks and realize that culture is something that is inherent and individual to each company. Rather, their mission is to help companies establish and build the culture that is true to their organization.

To help companies they offer a variety of services on the Zappos Insights website, including a blog, free tours, training boot camps and a robust online curriculum.

Here is the bottom line: Sometimes trying to move the needle in social media means you have to move another needle first. If your company is terrified of social media, maybe you should start by trying to move the culture needle. Once you get the conversation started about culture you can approach social media when the time is right. And when it is you will be more likely to have a common language to figure out where and how social media fits.

What do you think? How can culture drive a company’s social media strategy? Do you have tips for corporate employees who are battling a risk-adverse culture?

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About Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole

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