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It was 2009 and Mastercard was hesitant to implement a dense social media strategy and presence. This was not uncommon because most social platforms had not been proven and big players like Facebook were just starting to really take over the market. To Mastercard the use of social media was more of a security and publicity threat waiting to happen. An employee could accidentally share secure information or create a PR nightmare. Instead of continuing to shy away from social platforms Mastercard decided to engage their employees.

Mastercard launched its Ambassador program for employees and approached the problem head on. They empowered employees throughout the company to create content, share stories, and information about Mastercard. The first step was to set out brand guidelines for how to share and what content was appropriate (vetted by all departments). Since Mastercard was so large, the use of employees from different departments allowed for content to be relevant to more than one kind of client and employee. Mastercard then trained employees on best practices, how to create content, and how to do all these things on different platforms. They even went as far as to put a huge TV with social media conversations and vitals about Mastercard in the lobby of their headquarters. Mastercard even took a step further and allowed millennials to lead workshops and trainings to enhance generational communication and allow those that grew up with social media to show tips and tricks they had learned. Lastly, Mastercard set objectives on what it was it was looking for in its metrics and engagements. Through this program they were able to engage employees, measure successes, and develop a blossoming social media ecosystem.

This triumph for Mastercard can be translated into best practices for small and large business and business owners. Develop your goals for social media and ENGAGE your employees. We can see from Mastercard that giving the task of content creation for social media to multiple departments will yield positive results. It creates diversity in content and contracts those employees who may have already been on social media. Additionally, by involving many employees (Mastercard had 40% of its 2014, 20,000 person workforce) and training them Mastercard was able to create a system that empowered content creators. For small businesses it is especially important to engage your employees as a social media presence can usually have a greater impact on your businesses. A successful strategy will involve multiple employees from multiple departments, training these employees, setting guidelines for these employees, and setting metrics and goals for what you hope to accomplish. These measures will help you develop some foundations you need to jump into social media just as Mastercard did.