Last year, FedEx had over 10,000 volunteers participating in events in 400 cities worldwide.
You don't want to see a company talking about themselves. It can come across as self-centered and self-serving.
According to Alex Shockey, FedEx Social Media Advisor and SocialMedia.org member, it's a part of their FedEx Cares volunteer effort.
And as a part of the Global Social Media Team, it's Alex's job to share great brand stories like this across their corporate social media channels. But there's a problem: FedEx has too many volunteers.
With that many stories of FedEx Citizenship (as the company calls these volunteer efforts), the #FedExCares content floods their corporate feed.
“We can't post all of it, because we don't always have room for all of that on the content calendar. We're not only posting volunteer stories — we also have to post the messaging our marketing and advertising teams are giving us and jump in on those relevant conversations on social media,” says Alex.
“Where's my package?”
There's another problem. When Alex's team posts about volunteers doing great stuff from the corporate handle, they inevitably get bombarded with negative feedback, including the all-too-familiar response, “Where's my package?” Plus, she says, it can just look like bragging.
“If you think about it as a social media user,” Alex explains, “you don't want to see a company talking about themselves. It can come across as self-centered and self-serving.”
So Alex's team came up with a solution: Get volunteers to speak for themselves.
“People love to see the nonprofits talking about how they're helping or the volunteers themselves sharing posts. When it's someone else talking about the good we're doing, it seems more real and more impactful,” Alex explains.
The idea was to encourage the organizations FedEx volunteers with, like Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, Arbor Day Foundation, and the volunteering employees themselves to share the #FedExCares messaging on their own social presences. Then, FedEx would interact with the messaging from their own corporate handles through retweets, commenting, and sharing.
But first, Alex had to get employees comfortable with sharing on social media.
The biggest thing is to give your team members the tools they need to share.
This started with a call to FedEx's market coordinators for each volunteer effort or organization. She explained the concept and shared FedEx's basic social media guidelines they already share with every employee. But then she took it a step further with some physical social media reminders.
Alex's team created a poster to set up at each volunteer event. It included what hashtags to share, tips such as “take candid shots,” and some other social media basics. They also made selfie boards, essentially whiteboards, that say “I volunteer because…” Each participant can fill in the blank and take a photo in front of their reason for volunteering.
Then Alex's team ships these posters and selfie boards to the volunteer coordinator or market leader before every event.
From there, FedEx shows every volunteer post some love from their corporate handle.
Aside from shares and retweets, Alex's team also started a Storify page that they update regularly with volunteer content. They also created a video collage of curated selfie board photos.
“We were able to take a lot of those posts that we weren't able to share on our profiles because it would be overwhelming, and put them into one post to share,” Alex explains.
“It's a much more authentic and engaging strategy, and it's helped us achieve the goal of telling our FedEx Citizenship story more broadly.”
That quadrupled the year-over-year social conversations around FedEx Cares.
Turns out, once volunteers saw FedEx would engage with and actually care about their posts, they were encouraged to share even more. Alex said it's helped employees better understand what her group does, and made social media much more approachable.
Negative sentiment also dropped significantly when FedEx shared third-party content instead of tooting their own horn.
Plus, it just boosted employee morale. Alex says, “It's a great feeling when you see your colleagues sharing the good things they're doing and not just the company sharing the good things.” All of these good feelings come in handy, too, when FedEx is looking to hire new employees.
Alex also counts it as a win in itself that so many great organizations, like Safe Kids Worldwide and United Way, shared FedEx cares messaging. She says with their hundreds of thousands of followers, they reached audiences FedEx never would have reached on their own.
“The biggest thing is to give your team members the tools they need to share.”
Alex's advice is to do everything you can to make people feel comfortable with social media. Let them know that the company is encouraging them to share and they shouldn't be afraid to do it. Give them examples, guidelines, posters, and self-explanatory ways to add to the conversation (like the selfie boards).
Then, continue to show you care. Alex says, “If people share, and we tell them we're going to engage with them, it's important for us to keep our word.”
Follow Alex on Twitter and ask about her favorite volunteer organization in Memphis. Alex has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014, and FedEx has been with us for even longer since they joined the community in 2011.