Entrepreneurs have one eye trained on their current customers and the other on prospects. Just like a good parent, they should also have “eyes on the back of their head” trained firmly on their employees. Employees are often an overlooked resource for brand loyalty.

At no other time in history has this been so imperative.  Almost every employee has immediate access to a platform that can easily reach hundreds of people in the space of a few minutes; and a camera crew and a production team right in the palm of their hand to tell the story of the company they work for.

Of course this can be a huge advantage. Imagine if every company had even 50% of its employees raving about its products, services and better yet, its outstanding culture every week.

On the flip side, imagine if just one employee talked negatively about your company, and the potential number of people whom those words could be impact.

The employee-driven social media nightmare stories that hit the media are plentiful and painful. You probably remember how two Dominos employees tanked the reputation of the pizza giant with one short video that went viral in 2009.

However companies and organizations of all sizes need to recognize that the chatter on social media does not need to be intentionally malicious to do serious damage.  Often, it is an off-hand, personal comment about job responsibilities, work environment or company culture that says more about an organization than any PR campaign ever could.  Comments like “Tough day at work. It’s so frustrating not to be heard!” or “Had to deal with a ton of crabby customers all day long,” paint a not-so-rosy picture of a company’s products, services and belief systems. Slowly, these comments pile up and eventually cover up the “official” image that the marketing department is trying so hard to create.

Social media policies attempt to outline a set of rules for employees, but these types of vague, personal observations are not usually part of what is considered enforceable.

Smart companies and organizations will keep their ear to the ground to understand how their employees feel.  While it may be difficult to read negative comments, social media networks provide an unfiltered and valuable view to employee opinion that otherwise would never be shared.  Companies need to recognize that brand loyalty begins at home.  When employees believe in your mission, your products and your services, and when they feel valued and a part of something important, they will let others know naturally…and they will do it for free. The most valuable PR campaigns are the ones that grow organically from your own employees.