Companies are doing social media all wrong by pushing brands and not the people behind them, says Piers Cooper, chief executive officer of Addvocate, a startup that recently caught our attention.

Addvocate has “created a platform to let brands harness the trust and breadth of the people who know their companies best,” Cooper wrote for The Next Web. Companies have made the mistake of spending huge sums pushing themselves as brands without putting a human face on their efforts.

“Corporate-branded social media channels have become graveyards of canned marketing content, regurgitated pablum that does a poor job reflecting the people, personalities and interests of the people — the employees and customers — behind the spreadsheets,” Cooper wrote. “And, yet, brands continue to wonder why nobody engages with their content. In large part, it’s because many brands treat social media as a brand-to-people medium.”

He said 84 percent of people online trust recommendations from people they know and not banner ads (42 percent). Cooper also suggests cherry picking the best content employees are already sharing online and using those items to push brands. Tight social media policies are for the birds, he also insists.

“Engaging your colleagues delivers essential skills, drives sales, recruitment and retention,” he said. “Companies need to recognize that their employees are already talking about them on social media. They can either embrace this and support colleagues in becoming Brand Advocates or act like King Canute and attempt to hold back the tide with ineffective social media policies.”

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